7/29 Rizzo gets 1st walkoff
There’s a first time for everything, and rookie Anthony Rizzo now has his first walkoff home run. Rizzo launched a two-run opposite field home run in the 10th inning Sunday to power the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Cardinals and take the series.
“This is the best,” Rizzo said. “This is something I’ve always dreamed of doing since I was a little kid — I’ve never done it before, not in the Minors, not in Little League, not ever. This is awesome.”
He connected off Trevor Rosenthal, hitting an 0-1 pitch into the left field bleachers.
“It’s nice this early in his career to get his first walkoff in big time fashion, and a home run, too,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rizzo. “It was nice, especially off a guy throwing 97, 98 miles an hour, to take that pitch opposite field and not try to do too much. It was awesome.”
In 49 games last year with the Padres, Rizzo batted .141 with one home run. In 27 games since he was called up June 26, he’s hitting .333 with seven home runs. Sveum had heard that Rizzo had problems with fastballs. Not now.
“As soon as he got here, the lineup got deeper and got better,” Cubs starter Paul Maholm said of Rizzo. “He’s not up there just hacking. He’s working the counts and goes the other way and just hitting what they give him. They tried to go away from him in the 10th and [Rosenthal] got it up. He’s come up with some huge hits.”
Did the rookie take a deep breath in the 10th?
“Over my Minor League career and last year and this year, later innings, sometimes guys press a little harder and I see veteran hitters relax at the plate and take pitches and not be too aggressive,” Rizzo said. “That’s something I took into this at-bat. I’ve always come up a little over-anxious in situations like that and I took a clean swing and let the rest take care of itself.”
His plan: Keep it simple.
“Just hit the ball hard,” Rizzo said of his approach. “I’m not really trying to move him over there. I’m trying to do some damage.”
— Carrie Muskat