Coming into the game in an 0-19 slump, Anthony Rizzo conceded that something had just been off for him for a little while:
“I’ll do anything right now. I’m fighting myself at the plate, not feeling as comfortable as I usually am with my swing. …I’m not usually the most mechanical person but something is in there that isn’t firing the right way." –Rizzo (0-for-19 entering game).
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) July 14, 2018
When that happens for a guy like Rizzo, who, as he said, has such a stellar approach that swing mechanics are less “the thing” for him than comfort and natural rhythm, you wonder if he could benefit from some kind of random shakeup.
Like, for an example Joe Maddon employs regularly, batting Rizzo leadoff. Where he’s very comfortable as The Greatest Leadoff Hitter of All-Time.
Sure enough, not only did Rizzo come through with a few hits to break out of his 0-fer streak, and not only did he look good in the way he was staying on pitches, but he also put the Cubs on his back in the 9th inning and tied things up when the team was down to its final strike:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 14, 2018
That is a *good* pitch, especially on 3-2, and especially lefty on lefty. Brad Hand, after all, is a very good pitcher. But Rizzo stays on it, stays short to the ball, and punches it to left center with authority. Monster dongs are great, but I’m not sure hitting gets much better than that.
Rizzo is now up to .317/.377/.717 in his career batting first in the order. Don’t you dare talk to me about sample sizes. He’s the greatest. Full stop.
Bonus credit to Victor Caratini for reaching base with two outs there in the 9th, to Jason Heyward for some speedy pinch-running, to Joe Maddon for that pinch-running decision, and to Javy Baez for thereafter scoring the winning run in the 10th.
But tons and tons and tons of credit to The Greatest Leadoff Hitter of All-Time, who will almost certainly be right back in that spot tonight.