10 Oct, 2017
The TV cameras caught what Anthony Rizzo said after he drove in the go-ahead run and set Wrigley Field on fire.
It’s probably a good guess that the Washington Nationals do respect Rizzo. The guy’s been a perennial MVP candidate for each of the past three seasons. But Rizzo still felt a bit miffed when, with two outs in a tie game and Leonys Martin standing 180 feet away, they decided to pitch to him.
He made them pay, which is just what he wanted to do.
“Yeah, that’s the mentality I take always with the base open. I want to make guys pay,” Rizzo said after the Cubs’ 2-1 Game 3 win, one that put them a win away from advancing to their third straight NLCS. “I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that’s just the mentality that I always take in. Usually I keep that stuff behind the scenes and say that stuff, but just my emotions got me there.
“But you know, that’s the mentality. I believe I’m a really good hitter. I believe I’m one of the best hitters in the game, and you have to believe that. You have to believe in that. There’s a lot of power that comes with that.”
Power wasn’t exactly what won the Cubs the game, as Rizzo — who has hit 127 home runs over the past four regular seasons — brought the game-winning run home with a bloop single that landed in what Nationals manager Dusty Baker called “never never land” in between a trio of fielders. But it got the job done.
Goes down as a line drive in the scorebook, right?
Rizzo’s status as one of the faces of this franchise, along with fellow corner infielder Kris Bryant, will only grow after his clutcher than clutch hit Monday. But this is the kind of thing Cubs fans have come to expect from Rizzo. Maybe the Nationals didn’t get the memo?
“That was a big player in a big spot coming up big,” outfielder Kyle Schwarber said. “No surprise there. He’s been the rock through this whole series right now. He’s going to keep going.”
“When he’s using the whole field, that’s normally when he’s pretty good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Now, they have to respect the wind and his power. They are playing more deeply, and that’s permitted the ball to fall in. A lesser hitter, probably would have been caught. But that’s the thing I appreciate about Rizzo, the choke-up, the willingness to go to the opposite field.
“That’s why he’s so good, beyond he’s got natural ability, but as an offensive player, he can hit the ball in the seats and then he can he can hit you a blooper line drive to the left. That’s what needs to be nurtured more, and I really love his approach.”
An epic Game 3 ended in pretty epic fashion. After Jose Quintana and Max Scherzer starred on the mound, Albert Almora Jr. and Rizzo starred at the plate. It’s the kind of moment — or series of moments — that make October baseball so doggone special.
Rizzo’s had those moments before. Add this to his list.
In other words, respect him.
NBC Sports Chicago
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