- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo is still a youngster in the clubhouse and will be required to dress in an embarrassing outfit for a flight at some point before the end of the year, but he is also getting his due from teammates.
The Cubs have won 12 of their last 16 games. Rizzo has played in the last 15 games.
It’s not hard to make the connection and even though the Cubs are comprised of 25 players, including a number of veterans, they are quick to credit their new teammate for the recent success.
“We brought up a kid who is really exciting,” pitcher Matt Garza said about Rizzo on Sunday. “Just putting his presence in the lineup you can see what has happened. It puts pressure on the other team and the pitchers have to come up and make good pitches. Just his energy and youth kick people in gear and it’s awesome. It’s fun to see stuff like that and we’re just going to keep riding it out.”
A day earlier, pitcher Ryan Dempster was equally complimentary.
“Rizzo, you’re not going to find a makeup like that in a young player,” Dempster said. “He’s just incredible in his ability to stay grounded and work hard.”
Rizzo reached base two more times Sunday, including a first-inning RBI single to start the scoring on a day when runs would be tough to come by. The Cubs held on for a 3-1 victory.
Darwin Barney was the difference Sunday with a two-run home run in the second inning, but even he gave a shout out to Rizzo when asked what has been the difference in the Cubs’ play of late.
“I think it was a matter of time,” Barney said of the resurgence. “I think obviously Rizzo coming in, it helped deepen our lineup a little bit and helped solidify our defense. And guys started swinging the bats.”
At the 15-game mark, Rizzo is batting .356 with four home runs, 10 RBIs and a .627 slugging percentage.