Russell stays hot, but glovework steals show

Cubs SS reaches 80 RBIs, flashes stellar defense in win

August 23rd, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- Cubs shortstop is joining an elite group, and he's just getting started.

Russell hit a solo homer and a sacrifice fly to help power the Cubs to a 5-1 victory on Monday night over the Padres. It was the shortstop's 18th homer this year, and the sac fly in the third raised his RBI total to 80. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and Roy Smalley are the only Cubs shortstops to drive in 80 runs in a single season, with Banks totaling a career high 143 in 1959.

But Russell's glovework also was stellar. In the eighth inning, he robbed of a potential hit and possible RBI. According to Statcast™, the ball came off Myers' bat at 110 mph, and Russell was able to stop it and get to his feet in time to throw Myers out.

"It's a 5-1 game, but that play right there permitted us to use the bullpen the way we wanted to," Maddon said. "Not many guys make that play. Somebody said it was 110 miles an hour off the bat, and to pick it clean like that, that's pretty spectacular."

How did Russell do it?

"It's just instinct," Russell said. "Try to get in the best position, try to track the ball, anticipate where it's going to be hit. It's just instinct."

Usually, Russell, 22, gets a read on a ball by the first bounce, but this one took a short hop and was tough to get to.

In 27 games in the fifth spot in the Cubs' lineup, Russell is batting .286 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.

"He has a nose for the RBI," Maddon said. "Hitting five, he seems to have taken to that well. He's getting good at-bats, not opening up his strike zone. He's maturing offensively."

It's nice for Russell to have a stellar game in San Diego. The last time he was here was July 12 as the National League's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. Some thought the Rockies' deserved to start. Look at Russell now. He leads all NL shortstops in RBIs.

"Just watch me over the course of the year," Russell said. "The numbers may not be great, but I contribute to my team every single day. We all have each others' backs and we're pushing forward."