Rizzo comes through in the clutch for Cubs

Rizzo comes through in the clutch for Cubs

June 5, 2013, 11:45 pm
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Cubs don’t want to put everything on Anthony Rizzo’s shoulders, but he’s going to feel that weight as the new face of the franchise.

The Cubs look at the 10 years and $240 million the Los Angeles Angels have sunk into Albert Pujols and believe Rizzo will be the much better investment. That is, if you look at the growth chart, one will be declining while the other is rising, and it won’t be too long before Rizzo passes Pujols as a legitimate No. 3 hitter and Gold Glove-caliber first baseman.

That definitely doesn’t mean Rizzo will even come close to the Hall of Fame career Pujols has already put together. But the Cubs felt so comfortable giving Rizzo a seven-year, $41 million contract at age 23 for moments like this.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th inning on Wednesday night, Rizzo slammed Robert Coello’s fastball down the right-field line for a three-run double. That swing broke open a tie game and the Cubs hung on for an 8-6 victory in front of 30,171 fans at Angel Stadium.

“That’s what I said all the time: I want to be in that situation,” Rizzo said.

After a game that lasted four hours and 14 minutes, Rizzo joked that he was actually trying to break a record by grounding out to first base five times before singling to left field in the ninth inning.

“It’s just a funny game,” Rizzo said. “You come in, get the hit there and then get the big hit at the end. That’s where I want to be up in every situation. Whether I’m 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, I want to be in that situation.”

There were no late-game heroics from Pujols the day after he blasted his 54th career home run against the Cubs. A 24-33 team didn’t fold after falling behind 2-0 and 4-1 and start packing for the flight back to Chicago.

[More: Cubs still don't have an answer for Pujols]

The Cubs managed a two-game split in Orange County by getting a huge three-run homer from Cody Ransom and using relievers James Russell and Kevin Gregg to get nine outs combined. Matt Garza, who gave up four runs, was still hitting 95 mph when he left the game with one out in the seventh inning.

Rizzo isn’t getting the Pujols treatment, but one player now has 10 homers and 39 RBIs this season and the other has nine homers and 35 RBIs.

“He’s always a threat,” Garza said. “He’s young, so it’s going to be fun to watch him grow up a little bit. He’s going to do great things. What was it? Two outs, bases juiced and they want to pitch to this guy? Sooner or later, it’s going to be: ‘Bases juiced and we’ll pitch around him, hopefully he chases’ type of stuff. But it’s fun to watch.”

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