SHOT AT ALL-CITY SERIES HAS RIZZO EX­CITED

CUBS STAR SCORES ONLY RUN OF GAME IN FIRST IN­NING AS HEN­DRICKS STYMIES TWINS

Chicago Sun-Times - - CUBS BEAT - BY MIKE BERARDINO @MikeBer­ardino

An all-Chicago World Series for only the sec­ond time in his­tory? Cubs first base­man Anthony Rizzo would be ly­ing if he said the thought of fac­ing the crosstown White Sox on the game’s big­gest stage hadn’t crossed his mind.

‘‘It’s a long way away to get­ting there, but that would be some­thing that would be very spe­cial to the city, for sure,’’ Rizzo said be­fore serv­ing as the Cubs’ lead­off hit­ter Fri­day against the Twins at Wrigley Field.

Rizzo was 19 and bat­tling Hodgkin’s lym­phoma in 2008, the last time the Sox qual­i­fied for the post­sea­son. While he ad­mit­tedly tries to ‘‘check out’’ when he’s away from the ball­park, he has taken note of the rise of the Amer­i­can League Cen­tral-lead­ing South Siders.

‘‘They have a team, watch­ing them, that’s very sim­i­lar to us in 2015, that started off with a lot of tal­ent and has found ways to win, and now they’re a pow­er­house team,’’ said Rizzo, who walked and scored the only run of the game in the first in­ning of the Cubs’ 1-0 vic­tory Fri­day be­hind eight score­less in­nings from Kyle Hen­dricks. ‘‘Over here, we have guys that have won and know what the play­offs are like. It very well could come down to that, and that would be amaz­ing.’’

It will take more than a bit of luck, he ac­knowl­edged, for the teams to meet in the World Series for the first time in 114 years.

‘‘There’s go­ing to be a cou­ple of calls that don’t go your way or [do] go your way in the play­offs that are go­ing to de­ter­mine that,’’ Rizzo said, ‘‘and some ad­ver­sity you’re go­ing to have to deal with.’’

As the Na­tional League Cen­tral-lead­ing Cubs near their fifth post­sea­son berth in six years, Rizzo sug­gested the stretch drive would be head­ier for the youth­ful Sox af­ter they clinched a post­sea­son spot Thurs­day.

‘‘It’s an ex­cit­ing time; it’s def­i­nitely ex­cit­ing for the White Sox, for sure,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘I don’t mean this with any dis­re­spect, but I didn’t re­al­ize it was since ’08 [that] they made the play­offs the last time.”

For the Cubs to up­hold their end of the deal, they will have to flip the Hit­less Won­ders script of 1906.

Rizzo, who said on-field tee work be­fore re­cent games has helped him feel more com­fort­able at the plate, em­pha­sized the value of a well-timed hot streak this week in a ‘‘very or­ganic’’ club­house chat with team­mates Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Sch­war­ber.

‘‘When our whole lineup comes to­gether, we’re re­ally scary,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘We’ve seen Kris carry our team for a long stretch. We’ve seen Sch­war­ber do it. We’ve seen Javy do it. My­self. A cou­ple of us heat up at the right time, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Video re­stric­tions have made in-game ad­just­ments more chal­leng­ing for hit­ters around the game, Rizzo said, but the Cubs are do­ing all they can to share (le­gal) in­tel with each other be­tween plate ap­pear­ances.

With a surg­ing bullpen and sig­nif­i­cant play­off ex­pe­ri­ence, the Cubs think they are well-po­si­tioned un­der rookie man­ager David Ross to sur­vive the ex­panded gant­let that lies ahead. Mak­ing it to the doorstep of the play­off bub­ble with­out a COVID-19 out­break has soothed the play­ers’ nerves, as well.

‘‘See­ing the light at the end of the tun­nel now is go­ing to take a lot of stress off ev­ery­one,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘We know we could still get COVID, but I feel we’ve done a re­ally good job at elim­i­nat­ing a lot of the out­side vari­ables. Get­ting to the home­stretch . . . it will be good for guys to kind of ex­hale a lit­tle bit. That would be a sign of good things to come.’’ ✶

NUCCIO DINUZZO/GETTY IM­AGES

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo scores on an RBI sin­gle by team­mate Will­son Con­tr­eras dur­ing the first in­ning Fri­day against the Twins at Wrigley Field.

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