Anthony Rizzo got hold of a Zack Wheeler fastball in the first inning at Citi Field Tuesday night. Except this was the second pitch of the game that went over the center field fence. It was also a rare lead off home run for Rizzo and for the Chicago Cubs this could be an answer to getting over their pains of a struggling season.
And he hit that 14th home run off a consistent Mets starting pitcher. In fact, this was the first bad outing for a Mets starter in the past week but everyone knows that when Rizzo gets it started so does an entire team.
This was what the Cubs needed. They scored runs and Jon Lester pitched like a reliable and veteran ace. This is not what the Mets needed, though manager Terry Collins admitted that his righthander has been saving the team with a 2.41 ERA in his last seven starts.
Yeah, but Rizzo was in the lead off spot and Wheeler did not have his lead with the command. The fastball and everything else were all over the place.
“He’s going to have a bad one and tonight was the night,” explained Collins.
Ask Rizzo about leading off again. Manager Joe Maddon would commit to putting Rizzo in the same spot Wednesday night in the series finale. However, Rizzo, who has hit safely in his last eight games would not mind being in the lead off spot again.
Or for that matter batting second, or on the mound. Maddon had an inclination of putting his lead off hitter, and on this night on the mound, only because it would have been fun and the game was out of hand with the Cubs holding a 14-1 lead going into the ninth inning.
“It was nice to get a win on the road, especially here,” Rizzo said. ““No you never think of home run leading off the game,” he said. “You think single but it was false energy coming off warmups.” It was the first home run for Rizzo in the lead off spot.
That was one of five Chicago home runs. Rizzo will not take credit for sparking the offense and the Mets will find a way to keep him from putting a stroke on the bat, but at leadoff this does create another plan and dimension for the Cubs.
“Just keep winning and that’s about it,” Rizzo said. And Wednesday night, if not at leadoff who is not to say that Anthony Rizzo will not hit another home run and this time batting second?
Wheeler could not get it done at lead off and the task now goes to Matt Harvey.
It’s what the Chicago Cubs may need, the unexpected from Anthony Rizzo. And for Collins and his Mets the hope is to get the expected from Zack Wheeler the next time around.
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