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Russell not intimidated by postseason stage

Shortstop has 19 RBIs, the most in club playoff history
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Addison Russell knocked in the only run for the Cubs in a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World on Sunday night, and his home run moved him atop the Cubs' all-time list for postseason RBIs.

Russell's solo shot off Dodgers starter Rich Hill in the fifth inning gave Russell 19 career RBIs in the playoffs, moving him out of a tie with teammate Anthony Rizzo for the most in Cubs history. Russell, 23, also became the ninth player in Major League history with at least four postseason home runs before turning 24.

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LOS ANGELES -- Addison Russell knocked in the only run for the Cubs in a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World on Sunday night, and his home run moved him atop the Cubs' all-time list for postseason RBIs.

Russell's solo shot off Dodgers starter Rich Hill in the fifth inning gave Russell 19 career RBIs in the playoffs, moving him out of a tie with teammate Anthony Rizzo for the most in Cubs history. Russell, 23, also became the ninth player in Major League history with at least four postseason home runs before turning 24.

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What is it about the postseason stage that has allowed Russell to elevate his performance?

"It's their guys versus our guys," Russell said. "We're playing to win. I feel like the competition just steps up a little bit because each pitch is more crucial, each swing, each play. An error can be the deciding factor of winning or losing. A bad pitch can be the decision of winning or losing. That's really what I like about it."

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Russell's homer to left field gave the Cubs the lead in Game 2 but, unfortunately for Chicago, the Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the inning and their bullpen shut down the Cubs the rest of the way. It was a similar script to Game 1, when Albert Almora Jr. put the Cubs on the board first with a two-run homer before the Dodgers stormed back to win.

"Those guys are good, man. Those guys are good," said Russell of a Dodgers bullpen that hasn't allowed a hit or a run in eight innings. "Going about our business the same way, but you have to give credit to those guys, they are making their pitches in the right situations."

Leading off the top of the fifth, Russell pounced on a 1-2 fastball from Hill and sent a liner into the seats just inside the left-field foul pole. The ball left the bat at 102 mph with a 25 degree launch angle and traveled a Statcast™ projected 358 feet.

"Rich Hill is a great pitcher," said Russell, who struck out swinging in his first at-bat against the left-hander. "He got me my first at-bat. It was really hard to see my first at-bat. I felt like I was on time with all his pitches. He just left a fastball over the plate, I didn't try to do too much and it went out."

It was the first homer of the 2017 postseason for Russell, who went deep three times during the Cubs' magical ride through the '16 postseason.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Russell talks about his solo home run

Russell joined teammate Kyle Schwarber, Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx, Evan Longoria, Andruw Jones, Carlos Correa, Bryce Harper and Miguel Cabrera as the only players with at least four postseason home runs before the age of 24.

Informed of Russell's postseason accomplishments, teammate Jason Heyward marveled at the way Russell performs in the sport's most important games.

"He kind of just goes unconscious," Heyward said. "He goes up there and he takes his swings at the plate and tries to be on time and not miss pitches. He's not afraid to fail. I feel like that goes a long way."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Chicago Cubs, Addison Russell