Anthony Rizzo has taken quite a liking to the leadoff spot.
One night after hitting a leadoff homer in his first career start atop the batting order, the Chicago Cubs’ 240-pound first baseman did it again. Rizzo drove Matt Harvey’s first pitch over the left-center fence at Citi Field for his 15th home run of the season Wednesday, prompting excited high-fives from giddy teammates in the dugout.
“I am statistically the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time,” Rizzo said after the game. “I would like to retire there just to talk smack to everyone that tries to do it.”
Chicago rookie Ian Happ followed with his seventh homer for a 2-0 lead over the New York Mets, who later rallied for a 9-4 victory.
Rizzo was asked about television broadcasters mentioning that he predicted his leadoff homer against Harvey before the game.
“I think that’s kind of bogus that they bring out what we talk about in the dugout a lot. That’s between me and my teammates and they’re putting that on TV,” he said. “We talk all the time here, just saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be 1-0, it’s going to be 1-0 again. But you can’t ever predict a home run off a pitcher, especially Matt Harvey, so to put it out there, I’m not too thrilled with all that. But I was saying it before the game, messing around, being loose.”
The previous night, Rizzo launched Zack Wheeler’s second pitch a projected 462 feet to center, sparking a 14-3 rout of the Mets. Happ hit a grand slam off Wheeler in the second inning.
Looking to energize his slumping team, manager Joe Maddon batted Rizzo first on Tuesday — making the All-Star slugger the seventh Chicago player to hit at the top of the lineup this year.
The defending World Series champions entered Tuesday with a .306 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, which ranked 24th in the majors.
“You just go with it. It’s fun,” Rizzo said Wednesday. “Obviously you go back-to-back there, it gets the clubhouse really loose. Just statistically, by the books, to lead off the game, I’m the best there ever was. Right now.”