Anthony Rizzo's debut with the Cubs was highly anticipated by the Chicago fan base this summer, if for no other reason than that there was little else to get excited about. The Cubs were floundering in last place on June 24, having just been swept in Arizona, and dropping to a season-low 24 games under .500. On the following Monday, Chicago announced the promotion of Rizzo to the big club, and since that day the Cubs have won eight of their last 11 games.
The buzz generated by Rizzo's promotion was immediate, as fans had anticipated the call-up ever since the front office acquired him last January. Chicago Sports talk radio was lit up by callers who wanted to talk about the 22-year-old, having something to look forward to as the summer progressed.
Rizzo hasn't disappointed, hitting .375 with four homers and nine RBI's on the season. His bat has responded to the excessive heat as well this week, catching fire for a .435 average and three home runs over his past five games. Rizzo's first career four-hit night sparked an 8-7 win over the Mets in New York last night, and his three-run blast in the fifth helped the Cubbies build a 7-2 lead.
With their recent run, Chicago has crept out of last place in the NL Central, jumping a half-game over the Astros who themselves have lost nine straight. While there is no doubt that the Cubs will not be competing for anything resembling a playoff spot this summer, there is much to look forward to when fans tune in each and every night. Rizzo's bat has ignited an enjoyable watch for the fans, as has a personality that is easy to root for.
What remains to be seen is to how pitchers handle Rizzo the second time around the league. The adjustments the left-handed hitter will have to make will determine whether or not the trend can continue as the season enters its second half. The commotion caused by Rizzo's start will surely continue if the Cubs keep winning, and if the hits keep coming. His production to date has made the confines a lot more friendlier this summer.