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Rizzo surging on postseason's big stage

1st baseman now holds Cubs playoff records with 6 HRs, 16 RBIs
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- The last two weeks of the regular season weren't the best for the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo. But it's the postseason now, and Rizzo seems to perform well under the bright lights.

Rizzo's two-run homer on Saturday in Game 2 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile extended his postseason hitting streak to eight consecutive games. He's 12-for-29 (.414) in that stretch with a 1.273 OPS, two home runs and nine RBIs. He also has set franchise career postseason records with his six home runs and 16 RBIs.

CHICAGO -- The last two weeks of the regular season weren't the best for the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo. But it's the postseason now, and Rizzo seems to perform well under the bright lights.

Rizzo's two-run homer on Saturday in Game 2 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile extended his postseason hitting streak to eight consecutive games. He's 12-for-29 (.414) in that stretch with a 1.273 OPS, two home runs and nine RBIs. He also has set franchise career postseason records with his six home runs and 16 RBIs.

:: NLDS schedule and coverage ::

The October surge is well-timed considering Rizzo was 9-for-47 (.191) with no homers and three RBIs in the Cubs' final 14 games from Sept. 15-Oct. 1.

"The more you get in these [postseason] situations, the better you feel," Rizzo said. "It's just baseball. You have good days, you have bad days. Two weeks ago, I was probably one of the worst hitters on the team, and you have to ride with it."

His teammates don't think he's one of the worst. They're lobbying for him to be included among the best.

"To be honest, his name should be in the MVP running. Absolutely," Jason Heyward said of Rizzo, who hasn't been mentioned as often as, say, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, the Reds' Joey Votto or the Rockies' duo of Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

"I tell him all the time, he's an MVP," Heyward said of Rizzo.

This season was Rizzo's fourth straight with 30-plus homers and his third in a row with more than 100 RBIs. He's only the fourth Cub to reach 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBIs in three seasons, joining Hack Wilson, Billy Williams and Sammy Sosa.

The Cubs' Kris Bryant won that award last season, batting .292 and leading the NL with 121 runs.

"Last year, what worked for me was moving around the field, being versatile and being on a winning team -- I think that's probably the most important thing, and that's where value comes in," Bryant said. "The whole point of playing this game is to win.

"Another thing is being durable and being on the field, because if you're not on the field, you don't have a chance to perform. [Rizzo's] always on the field. He wants to win. He's super valuable to the team in here and on the field. He should always be in the running for it."

Rizzo also may be the biggest kid on the team. On Sept. 28 when the Cubs were in St. Louis, Rizzo went down to the bullpen to throw. And he wasn't playing catch as an infielder -- he was pitching. He tries to do it at least once during the season for fun.

Back to his real job: Rizzo's success has been his ability to adjust in-game against pitchers. He did that in Game 1 against Stephen Strasburg, striking out in his first two at-bats, then delivering an RBI single and an RBI double in successive at-bats.

Video: CHC@WSH Gm1: Rizzo laces an RBI double down the line

"You've got to be focused. You've got to be locked in," Rizzo said. "Those are the situations I want to be up in, and thankfully, I hit the ball where they weren't [in Game 1]."

Rizzo's eight-game postseason hitting streak is tied with Phil Cavarretta and Stan Hack for the third longest by a Cubs player since 1913. Ryne Sandberg had a 10-game streak from 1984-89, and Riggs Stephenson had a nine-game stretch from 1929-32.

"I'm just taking it in stride," Rizzo said. "I know my job is to drive in runs, and I've done it for a few years now."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo