Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell break out for Cubs in NLCS Game 4

first_imgAnthony Rizzo and Addison Russell came into Game 4 of the National League Championship Series hitting .119 in the postseason.As in … .077 for Rizzo and .042 for Russell.Small sample size or not, those were ugly numbers, but manager Joe Maddon insisted he was not worried about two of his key players.They proved him right, as they provided some of the biggest hits in the Chicago Cubs’ series-evening 10-2 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “Addie’s fine,” Maddon said. “He’s 22. He’s experiencing the postseason for the first time.”Russell had been injured when the Cubs were in the postseason last year, so this is his first shot. Maddon said he talked to Russell on Monday’s workout day about taking a new approach, keeping it simple.Perhaps to help Russell relax, Maddon dropped him to eighth in the lineup on Wednesday, after he’d hit fifth when the series began.Russell said he didn’t need to relax, but the homer certainly helped.“I’ve been struggling this postseason a little bit but didn’t panic,” Russell said. “My confidence was still there. I have been seeing the ball. Been taking some good swings. I definitely wasn’t panicking. Just frustrated more than anything else. It’s definitely a sigh of relief.”Russell hit a flyout to left in his first trip, then had the homer and single, and then hit a flyout to deep center in the seventh. He collected his third hit of the game in the ninth.As for Rizzo, he came into the game with two hits in 26 at-bats in the postseason, and one of those was a shattered-bat single late in Tuesday night’s game. The slump showed no signs of ending after he struck out in his first two trips on Wednesday.So then, Rizzo switched bats, grabbing one that belongs to teammate Matt Sczcur.“I hit well with his bat,” Rizzo said. “It has hits in it. Same size, just a different model, different name.”The first assignment for the new bat was right-hander Pedro Baez, and Rizzo crushed a 3-2 fastball 401 feet out to center field. It left his bat at 106 mph, the hardest ball he had hit since Sept. 23, according to StatCast.In Rizzo’s next trip, he smoked another ball, this one 108 mph for a two-run single. He also singled in the eighth, his third hit of the night.“It should help their confidence, no question about that,” Maddon said of Rizzo and Russell. “When they show up at the ballpark, there’s going to be a good balance about them. Probably going to see the ball better, slow things down a little bit.”center_img Russell hit a two-run homer to cap a four-run fourth inning, and then Rizzo hit a solo shot in the fifth. In the five-run sixth, Russell started it with an infield hit and Rizzo added a two-run single.They had three hits apiece and a combined five RBIs.Just like Maddon expected.“This is our lineup,” Maddon said. “We had 103 wins. This is the lineup that got us there. We had two tough nights. So what? … These are our guys, and they showed up tonight.”Asked before the game about Russell, Maddon cited a number you won’t see on the stat sheet: his age.last_img read more