A wise man once wrote that the conditions at Great American Ball Park were very conducive to Anthony Rizzo breaking out of his early-season funk. Turns out I, er…he, was right. Truth be told, the power surge really began in Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals, during which Rizzo put one into the seats and would have had another had Randal Grichuk not pulled it back from atop the wall.
When the big first baseman homered in the 6th inning of Thursday’s game, it pulled him into a tie with Paul Goldschmidt and Giancarlo Stanton for the most home runs (91) among NL hitters since the start of the 2013 season. That little bit of trivia was somewhat overshadowed by glory hog Jake Arrieta and his no-hitter. It figures that the prima donna starting pitcher would want to steal the limelight from his offense on a night when Cubs hitters hung 16 runs on the hapless Reds. So much for great chemistry.
It was inevitable that Rizzo would soon step out from Arrieta’s shadow, and no sooner had a graphic on Friday night’s telecast brought attention to his accomplishment than Rizzo launched a shot to right off of hapless Reds starter Jon Moscot. No stranger to carbo-loading, that marked the lefty’s third tater in as many games and moved him into an outright lead on the list of longball launchers.
Rizzo failed to homer in Saturday’s 13-5 loss, but I think that was just a matter of him feeling sorry for them. When Bryan Price had the audacity to send Alfredo “Big Pasta” Simon — he of the 2/3 inning disasterpiece back on 4/13 — to the bump Sunday, however, all bets were off. Rizzo saw a nice, juicy fastball in the top of the 1st and he promptly deposited it into the first row in right. The umpires took a brief look to see whether a fan had interfered, but the homer stood.
By the time Rizzo came up again in the 3rd, the Cubs were already up 5-0 and the giant bowl of fettuccine was still serving up heaping helpings of heaters. Probably not the best way to attack a known carboholic. Hungry for more and unwilling to toy with his prey the second time around, Rizzo jumped all over the first pitch he saw and promptly deposited it onto the mini berm in center. No fan interference on that one. Simon would stay in to face a few more batters and give up another run, thus bringing his season ERA against the Cubs to a robust 35.10.
If my history is correct, Anthony Rizzo is the first Cub with 8 home runs in 19 teams games since the great Billy Williams did so in 1970. He’s finally got the batting average up over .200, though his BABIP (.122) continues to drop because dingers don’t count. Again, that stuff’s all going to even out over time.
I’m not a big fan of reality television, but even I can’t deny the appeal of seeing this bachelor get down on one knee to propose to all these eligible pitches. It’s also nice to get the email that another $5 has come out of my PayPal account with each shot. If you haven’t already, I suggest you join the Home Run Challenge as well.
I’ve got a feeling Rizzo is gonna end up costing me a nice chunk of change this season, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.