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Castellanos' 2 HRs key Cubs' 4th straight win

@Russ_Dorsey1
August 30, 2019

CHICAGO -- There’s being focused, there’s being locked-in, and then there’s whatever Nicholas Castellanos is doing at the plate right now. There may not be anyone on earth hotter than Castellanos, and during the Cubs’ 7-1 win over the Brewers on Friday at Wrigley Field, he showed exactly why. •

CHICAGO -- There’s being focused, there’s being locked-in, and then there’s whatever Nicholas Castellanos is doing at the plate right now.

There may not be anyone on earth hotter than Castellanos, and during the Cubs’ 7-1 win over the Brewers on Friday at Wrigley Field, he showed exactly why.

Box score

His two-homer performance helped to extend the Cubs lead over Milwaukee in the National League Wild Card to five games, while also cutting the Cardinals’ NL Central lead to one.

“Oh man, it’s awesome,” Castellanos said. "Not because of me, but because of where I’m at, who I’m playing with and where we are in the standings -- and what these two months are. That’s what’s rewarding about it.”

Castellanos’ four-RBI day started early, as he ripped a two-run blast off Brewers starter Chase Anderson in the first inning to give Chicago a 2-0 lead.

In his next at-bat, the right fielder turned around a 2-1 fastball from Anderson and launched it toward the left-field bleachers for his second two-run blast in as many innings.

The amped Castellanos capped the moment with an emphatic bat slam as his 422-foot homer extended the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

“It’s just how I felt like expressing myself in that moment,” Castellanos said. “Just having an idea that he was going to come in [with the fastball] and wanting to do exactly what I did. Just looking to the boys and getting fired up. I don’t really have an explanation. I didn’t mean to do that. It just came out.”

“I didn't see it,” Brewers starter Chase Anderson said in response. “Guys are going to do what they're going to do. He's a good hitter, he hit two homers off me -- they're going to celebrate a little bit. If I can execute and get those guys out, they're not going to do it anymore.”

The pair of two-run shots gives Castellanos 11 homers in 27 games since being acquired from the Tigers at the July 31 Trade Deadline. He hit 11 home runs over 100 games with Detroit.

“The last time I faced him was in the Fall League in 2012, and he's been a player ever since,” Anderson said of Castellanos. “I know he was going into free agency and he wasn't playing like he wanted to in Detroit. He gets traded over here, kind of new life, and he's carried their team a little bit."

Castellanos’ monster game came in support of starter José Quintana, who tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers for his 12th win of the season. Quintana finishes his strong August with a 4-1 record and a 2.02 ERA.

Chicago’s offense has lacked balance and consistency all season, but Castellanos’ bat has helped both stabilize it and provide a much-needed jolt. The Cubs are now 16-11 since acquiring Castellanos and 7-2 in games he's homered.

“Nicholas is Nicholas. When you talk to him, my God, he’s the same dude everyday,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know if he sleeps or not, but he’s absolutely the same person. He’s always energetic. His conversations are always upbeat. I don’t see a stitch of fatigue right now.”

The numbers don’t reflect it either. Castellanos is now hitting .357 with an eye-popping 1.122 OPS during his blistering August.

On a roster with as many superstar-caliber players and personalities as any team in baseball, Castellanos may have a major role to play in the Cubs’ postseason aspirations.

“The fact that we can get punched in the mouth like we did against the Nationals and come back and play baseball the way we have speaks to who we are,” Castellanos said.

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.