Rizzo sparks victory in his Cubs debut

Rizzo sparks victory in his Cubs debut

Rizzo sparks victory in his Cubs debut
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo lived up to the hype.

The Cubs top prospect collected two hits in his Chicago debut, including a tie-breaking RBI double in the fourth, to contribute big time in a 5-3 victory Tuesday night over the Mets.

"He didn't act like much of a kid tonight," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rizzo. "That was pretty impressive. You can't teach the way he is at first base, the mannerisms he has and all that. It's pretty impressive. You can't teach 'no panic.'"

Promoted from Triple-A Iowa after hitting 23 home runs and batting .342, Rizzo reached on an infield single in his first at-bat, although it was first ruled an error on shortstop Ruben Tejada, then changed to a hit by the official scorer.

Rizzo did not seem bothered by the hoopla surrounding his arrival. He was happy to get a groundball in the first to settle his nerves, and handled first base cleanly, snaring Lucas Duda's liner to open the Mets' second. But he couldn't stop Josh Thole's single with two on and two out that inning. One run scored on Thole's hit, and Dillon Gee followed with an RBI single.

The Cubs had two on and none out in the third when Rizzo grounded to first to advance both runners. Even that is a huge plus.

"It's something we struggle with sometimes," Sveum said. "We not only don't get a hit, we strike out and don't move anybody along. You'd like hits, but obviously to have contact, or you can have deep fly balls to move guys, and sometimes unfortunately, too, you hit groundballs and get double plays in those situations."

Rizzo's at-bat wasn't wasted as a run scored on Alfonso Soriano's broken-bat groundout. After Bryan LaHair walked, Luis Valbuena hit an RBI double to tie the game. Darwin Barney followed with an RBI single, but Valbuena ended the inning when he overran third and was tagged out.

"I don't know if it's fatigue, I don't know what it is," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We didn't run the bases, we didn't play good defense, we didn't drive the runs in we needed to drive in. It was a combination of a lot of things."

The Mets loaded the bases in the fourth and tied the game at 3 on David Wright's sacrifice fly. That was their last highlight. Chicago starter Randy Wells, subbing for injured Ryan Dempster, was fortunate there wasn't more damage. He was pulled after three-plus innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks. Before the game, Sveum said Wells needed to get back on track.

"This is one where we need him to step up and do what he can do and throw strikes and keep the ball down," Sveum said. "That's basically all he has to do."

But Wells didn't, and may be skipped. The Cubs do have an off day Thursday.

"I was continuously making dumb pitches that were getting me in bad counts and having to work that much harder to squeeze by innings," Wells said. "It's easy to sit here and dwell on the negatives and obviously, it wasn't a good start -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that. We scratched out a win, Rizzo had a big night, Scott Maine got his first win, and [Carlos] Marmol got his 100th save.

"I'm not going to sit here and beat myself up or dwell on the negatives," Wells said. "It's pretty obvious, any time you walk four guys and walk the pitcher trying to sacrifice, it's trying to do too much and trying to be too fine and not trusting your stuff."

Maine can celebrate as can Marmol, now the fourth Cubs pitcher to reach the century mark in saves, joining Lee Smith (180 saves), Bruce Sutter (133) and Randy Myers (112). Marmol had the game ball in his locker. He wasn't giving it to Maine or Rizzo or anyone else.

"It's big for me," Marmol said. "It took a long time. Finally, I got it."

He got it because Rizzo delivered in the fourth. The Cubs had runners at the corners with two outs, and Gee tried to pound Rizzo inside with fastballs. Rizzo didn't panic, and delivered an RBI double to center to go ahead, 4-3, and most likely boost sales of his No. 44 jersey.

Rizzo might have been given the key to the city if he homered, and the 34,064 at Wrigley Field thought he did when he flied out to the warning track in right in the seventh.

"It's a lot of fun winning in the big leagues," Rizzo said.

He did look very comfortable on the field, although Rizzo admitted to taking some deep breaths before the game.

"That's how I play the game, I play really relaxed," he said. "Everyone tells me, 'It looks like you're not even trying.' I like hearing that. I just try not to hype myself up or get too wild up. Once I get out there, I knew my adrenaline would take over."

The 22-year-old said it was "awesome" to be playing at Wrigley Field and "awesome" to hear the crowd cheer when he was first introduced and "awesome" when he hit the RBI double.

"I think it's great to be this excited," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I hope it comes with the understanding that there will be ups and downs. It's hard to find players who come up and never struggle. When they do that, they're in the Hall of Fame."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.