The All Star Break officially begins today. The Cubs head into the All Star Break victorious over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5. Anthony Rizzo was, well, Anthony Rizzo. He had four of the Cubs 15 hits yesterday.
“We really needed that win,” Rizzo said. “We didn’t want to get swept by them. We didn’t want to let them gain another game. … It was as much of a must win game as there is today.”
Starting pitcher John Lackey was the perfect guy to lead the turnaround. The mighty Texan was hit by a liner in the second inning and he wouldn’t come out of the game. He shook it off and the many Cubs fans in attendance applauded him. Yew could tell he wanted this win badly.
“He wanted none of that,” Maddon said. “PJ went first and I didn’t want to leave him hanging. I knew the reception wouldn’t be glorious. [Lackey] definitely told us where to go, and we did.”
I overheard a couple of Pirates fans behind me talking about the double threat of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. They were in awe and the mutual respect these fans had for the Cubs power duo as I have for Andrew McCutchen was inspiring. It was “Cutch” that connected with a sacrifice fly ball that tied the game up in the seventh inning that even I, the Cubs fan from Canada stood up and cheered for Pittsburgh’s hero. I couldn’t help it, it was contagious. When people talk about rivalries, there’s no other rivalry like these two teams have. There’s a competitiveness that brings the best out in these two clubs. When Kris Bryant broke the tie in the eighth, even those same Pirates fans almost cheered for Bryant.
Almost, remember we’re in Pittsburgh.
“It was a fun game — it’s almost like, this All-Star break, we don’t want it to happen because that was a good win for us and things could turn from there,” Bryant said.
It was 81 degrees in the shade and the sun lit up PNC Park. This was our first trip to one of Pittsburgh’s crown jewels. When folks said that PNC Park is one of the finest ballparks in the majors, they weren’t kidding. Folks, this park is incredible. Without taking anything away from Fenway Park or Wrigley Field because those are shrines and last reminders of how important and timeless the game of baseball is to our culture, the feeling my family and I had was perfect. My son and I went down to the field level to catch practice and saw Carl Edwards and Justin Grimm throwing the ball around. We weren’t close enough to get an autograph or even give them some words of encouragement but Darcy was glued to Edwards throwing rockets and he told me, “Daddy, I want to be a pitcher”
As we walked out of PNC Park the rush of knowing that the Cubs slump could be over, I had Pittsburgh fans shake my hand, congratulating the Cubs on a hard fought game. Pittsburgh, you were an amazing host to my family. We’ll be back. Thank you.
The guy sitting behind me told me,”Hey, if your Cubs don’t make it this year, you cheer for the Pirates. We’ll be cheering for the Cubs.”
I’m taking him up on the offer.