Sometimes it can be hard to find the silver lining in a 7-1 blowout loss, but that wasn't the case Monday night when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo finally made his MLB pitching debut. Rizzo had been begging manager Joe Maddon to let him pitch in Friday's blowout loss to the Cardinals, in which Maddon responded by pulling him from the game.
The first baseman has made it known to just about everyone he wanted his shot to pitch. After the dismal first inning starter Luke Farrell had, allowing five runs, it became clear Rizzo might get his shot.
"Oh he's been on me forever," Maddon said after the game. "So I said, 'That's it, this is your shot."
Rizzo entered the game in the top of the ninth, with two runners already gone thanks to Victor Caratini's double-play ball that Rizzo referred to as a sinker — hard to say what the pitch really was. But nonetheless, it allowed Rizzo the moment he's been desperately begging for.
"I was just giving (Joe Maddon) 'the eye' when he was coming out," Rizzo said with a grin. "Been working on that for six or seven years now with (assistant coach Mike Borzello) pretty much every day during BP. It was pretty crazy stepping on that mound."
Rizzo stepped to the mound to face Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock, who finished the night 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. The Cubs' first baseman only needed two pitches to get Pollock to pop up, wasting no time strutting off the field as if he was walking away from some massive explosion in an action movie.
And rightfully so, after making Cubs history Monday night.
Anthony Rizzo just set a fun, obscure record. Most HR in a #Cubs uniform (177) at the time of a pitching appearance for the Cubs.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 24, 2018
When asked if he thought Pollock's ball had a chance to leave the yard, he instantly shot down the idea, pointing out the wind blowing in from center field. But as much fun as Rizzo had on the mound, he acknowledged this would be his first and last appearance as a pitcher.
"It was a lot of fun and I have a career zero ERA," Rizzo said. "But barring any crazy playoff game, I'll be sitting at the end of the bench not wanting to pitch anymore."
Rizzo didn't give a straight answer on why he was done, it just felt like the Cubs superstar had finally scratched an itch he had been waiting over six years to scratch. And two pitches was all it took for Rizzo to be satisfied with himself.
Sometimes, it's just one of those nights where nothing goes your way. Maddon knew from the first inning it was going to be tough to overcome a short outing from Farrell with a bullpen already on the verge of being overused. But thanks to his creativity, the Cubs relievers got some much-needed rest.
And Rizzo, who already set a few obscure records Monday, told Maddon he has some lofty aspirations for himself this season.
"He said he's going after the greatest leadoff hitter and relief pitcher in the same season."