Often, when a team feels a game is out of reach, it may blow through its pitching staff. And at other times, it chooses to save an arm in the bullpen by putting a position player on the mound. A handful of guys have done it in Major League Baseball, but arguably one of the best moments belongs to Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo Shares a Laugh with Freeman as He Steps into the Batter's Box
On April 28, 2021, the Chicago Cubs were down 10-0, so they figured they had nothing to lose. Rizzo took the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning, hoping to mitigate the damage and save the back of their bullpen for another day. After getting an out and walking a batter, Freddie Freeman stepped up to the plate, both of them sharing a laugh. At this point in the game, Freeman was 4 for 4 with two singles, a double and a home run. He was bound to reach base for a fifth time against Rizzo on the mound, right?
All smiles, Rizzo threw his first pitch, which looped down and away for ball one. He threw a solid 70 mph on pitch No. 2, but it still landed just a bit outside. No. 3 found the top corner, as Freeman watched strike one hit the catcher's mitt. Rizzo then reared back, and hit 74 mph on the radar gun up and away, which Freeman fouled off to left.
Again, players erupted into laughter. Freeman adjusted his gloves while Rizzo took a walk around the mound. Rizzo stared down the catcher, shook off a signal, then threw a beautiful, looping 61 mph pitch down and away. Freeman swung hard and missed, giving Rizzo the first and only strikeout of his MLB pitching career. Laughter erupted again, and Rizzo caught the throw back to the mound with his throwing hand.
This was a great moment, as it came early in the season after a return to "normal" in a "post"-COVID-19 world. You could see the joy in both players' faces, despite the scoreline. And that's why we all started playing baseball in the first place, right? The joy of the game? These are the type of moments we don't forget, and there's bound to be more in the near future.
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