Despite what has been a lopsided season matchup with the Braves, Anthony Rizzo has managed to author some of the more memorable moments of the 2021 campaign. Interestingly enough, both involved Freddie Freeman. Not comfortable allowing his playful taunt of “Freddie! Frederick!” during a rundown at Wrigley stand out as the primary highlight, Rizzo decided to take things to a new level Wednesday evening.
Down 10-0 in the 7th inning and in no position to burn relievers after Kyle Hendricks and other pitchers had been shelled, David Ross opted to let position players carry them home. That included Rizzo, who had his sights set on his old pal.
“I was in the on-deck circle and had a straight shot to Freddie and I was kinda loosening my arm up and I go, ‘I want you,’ pointing at him,” Rizzo told reporters after the game. “It was fun. When Rossy asked if I wanted to pitch, obviously I’m not gonna try to blow it out and hurt myself by any means. … It helped lighten the mood here.
“Obviously we’re not winning but when you can have fun like that and break up kind of the bad feeling, it helps in the long run.”
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 29, 2021
Rizzo opened the AB with two balls, then fired a 71 mph fastball for a called strike and turned the heat up to 74 to coax a foul. That’s when the elite leadoff hitter/reliever uncorked an Uncle Charlie that got Freeman swinging and elicited the biggest smile you’ll ever see from a guy who just struck out against a position player. It was a welcome reprieve from the drudgery of a five-game skid and it’s okay to laugh through the pain.
Shohei Ohtani doesn’t need to worry about Rizzo coming for his crown, though Rizzo is the best leadoff hitter of all time and also carries a 0.00 ERA.