Rizzo refuses to get carried away with Chicago Cubs hot streak
It's probably safe to say by now the Cubs are better than most everyone expected.
They completed a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 6-1 victory Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The game featured 5 strong innings by Adbert Alzolay, a 2-run double by Anthony Rizzo and a 2-run homer from Javy Baez.
The Padres came into town with the best record in the National League. With this sweep, the Cubs are 11-1 on the season against the Padres, Dodgers, Mets and Cardinals.
Next up is a good road test, as the Cubs visit the West Coast for the first time in nearly two years for four games against San Francisco, which passed the Padres for best record in the NL over the past three days.
Before hopping on the plane to California, Rizzo tried his best to sound unimpressed, even as the Cubs won for the ninth time in their last 10 games.
"I don't think we've really proven much," he said. "It's June 2. We've proven to each other how much fun we're having and how good we are, but we've got four more months left.
"Stories were written about how good or bad people were this time last year after 60 games. But it's 162 and definitely not going to get too high and say we're proving everyone wrong, because we've got a long season left. It's day by day and tomorrow will be another big game for us."
There are reasons to believe the Cubs can keep this up. Their stars are back to playing at a high level. Their bullpen has been the best in baseball since May 1. They've endured a large number of injuries and kept winning.
Talent is important. But more often than not, it's talent plus chemistry that puts teams in the World Series, and many of the Cubs' regulars have been through it before.
During the month ahead, the Cubs will face the Padres, Dodgers, Mets and Cardinals again, mostly on the road. Asked if the Cubs need to play well in June to avoid a sell-off at the trade deadline, Rizzo didn't play along.
"I think over the years as we've played, we've been in first place a lot and there's been teams that just talking to outsiders looking in, they're like, 'Man, you guys are really fun to watch. You guys are really exciting,' " Rizzo said. "I think we have that team, and we continue to keep building that team.
"I think if we continue to do that, everything will take care of itself. We can't control from now until then, but we can control coming in and just doing what we need to do to be ready to play."
Wednesday was another victory for the Cubs' depth. Former Iowa Cubs Patrick Wisdom, P.J. Higgins, Rafael Ortega, Sergio Alcantara and Tommy Nance played key roles.
Higgins got his first major-league hit with a clean single in the eighth inning, after an 0-for-15 start. Wisdom didn't add to his home run total but is still hitting .435 in nine games with the Cubs. Alcantara is 4-for-6 with 2 doubles and a triple since being called up.
"I feel like around the locker room, we treat everyone like a brother," said Alzolay, who lowered his season ERA to 3.62. "Everyone that is coming in and stepping up and going out there and performing, I think they get that confidence right away when they get inside the locker room."
Higgins hit a short pop fly in the fourth inning that resulted in a violent collision between Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim and left fielder Tommy Pham. Both players stayed on the ground for a few minutes and left the game.
That actually would have been Higgins' first major-league hit, but the bases were loaded at the time and the runners on first and second couldn't see the ball fall out of Kim's glove. So the play ended up being an inning-ending double play.
On the recovery front, injured outfielders Jake Marisnick and Jason Heyward were both in the lineup for the Triple A Iowa Cubs on Wednesday night in Omaha, starting rehab assignments.
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