CHICAGO -- If the U.S. gymnastics team is looking for a sixth member, they might want to call Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who showed off his acrobatic skills once again in Tuesday night's 4-1 win in the nightcap of the doubleheader that completed the day-night sweep against the Brewers."I
CHICAGO -- If the U.S. gymnastics team is looking for a sixth member, they might want to call Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who showed off his acrobatic skills once again in Tuesday night's 4-1 win in the nightcap of the doubleheader that completed the day-night sweep against the Brewers.
"I got a good dismount, could've stuck the landing a little better, but I'm pleased with it," Rizzo said of his play in the fifth inning.
With one out, Rizzo chased Keon Broxton's popup in foul territory near the rolled-up tarp, then stepped onto the top of the wall with his right foot, reached over the fans to catch the ball and somehow maintained his balance. Rizzo hopped on one foot, then jumped to the ground.
"I looked up there and the ball was still pretty high and I had time to get up there and make the play," Rizzo said. "I surprised myself that I caught the ball, to be honest. It's one of those fun plays -- if you make it, you look great, and if you don't, you look like a fool."
What was Cubs manager Joe Maddon thinking as he watched Rizzo's feat?
"Just that he would stick the landing,' Maddon said. "I was hoping for at least a 9.5 from the Luxembourg judge. It was a great play. He did a nice job of getting there. ... He knows the wall, he knows that area. He did a great job. It was a big play."
The crowd of 39,420 responded not only with an ovation but also chants of "M-V-P, M-V-P."
Maybe it's the Brewers who inspire Rizzo. On Aug. 13, 2015, the All-Star first baseman jumped onto the rolled tarp next to the brick wall, and stepped into the seats, yet somehow was able to catch Ryan Braun's popup. Jason Hammel started that game, and started Tuesday as well.
"I remember the last one like it was yesterday, and this one was even better," Hammel said. "Especially at Olympics time, he stuck the landing. It was a great dismount -- I don't know what you'd call it, if it's the pommel horse or the vault or whatever, it's unbelievable. For him to be in the right place at the right time on the ledge, that's a great play, unbelievable play."
Second baseman Ben Zobrist felt Rizzo should be in the balance beam competition. <p. --="" a="" able="" along="" and="" be="" big="" guy="" jump="" like="" over="" p="" pretty="" s="" said.="" tarp="" that="" the="" tip-toe="" to="" wall="" was="" zobrist=""> Rizzo said he used to do crazy catches with his father and older brother when he was younger. </p.>
"You see the plays Derek Jeter would make running into the stands, and that's what you think of," Rizzo said.
"He does a great job of knowing his home park, and knowing what he can and can't do in this park," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You saw him take a peek right before he went up there and made the step. That's still incredible athleticism to take the step and keep your eye on the ball. It's really impressive."
Counsell then paused.
"I'd be more impressed if I hadn't seen it already," he said.
"That's one of the best plays I've seen," Chicago catcher David Ross said. "He did it last year and took me by surprise. People don't understand -- it's the second game of the doubleheader, he plays every day, and how tired he is. It's hot out there and humid and the guy is making plays for his pitcher like that -- it's pretty impressive. It means he cares about winning, he cares about his teammates. It's a powerful thing."
Plays like that would justify the "M-V-P" chants.
"He wants to be the leader, he really wants that role," Hammel said. "I think he relishes and cherishes that. ... It's fun to have a guy like that, a young guy who wants to take the team where he wants to go, and that's obviously to win."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.