If the lofty expectations were weighing on Anthony Rizzo, he sure didn’t show it in his Cubs debut.
Rizzo had two hits and drove in the go-ahead run in his first game with Chicago, which rallied for a 5-3 victory over the sliding New York Mets on Tuesday night.
”That’s how I play the game, really relaxed,” Rizzo said. ”Everybody always tells me it looks like I’m not even trying. I like hearing that a lot.”
Rizzo doubled home Steve Clevenger with two out in the fourth, making it 4-3 and sending the Mets to their fourth straight loss – matching a season high.
”He didn’t act like much of a kid tonight, that’s for sure,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. ”That was pretty impressive.”
Rizzo was called up earlier in the day for his highly anticipated Cubs debut. He reached on an infield single in the first when his smash eluded shortstop Ruben Tejada and bounced to first in the third, advancing two runners and sparking Chicago’s three-run rally.
Add in a flawless performance in the field and it was pretty close to an ideal opening act.
”Those are the little things that go unnoticed in baseball that you’ve got to do to win day in, day out,” Rizzo said. ”It’s just playing baseball.”
The touted Rizzo hit .342 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa. He made his big league debut last season for San Diego, hitting .141 in 49 games before being traded to Chicago over the winter.
Dillon Gee (5-6) struck out six in five innings for the Mets, but gave up four runs and nine hits. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.69 ERA in his last six starts.
”It just seemed like everything they hit was getting through somewhere,” Gee said. ”I wasn’t able to settle down and find that rhythm.”
New York’s David Wright went 0 for 3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly, ending his hitting streak at 15 games. It was the longest active streak in the majors.
”We didn’t run the bases, we didn’t play good defense, we didn’t drive in runs we need to drive in,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ””We didn’t pitch very good. It’s the worst Dillon’s pitched in a while, nothing was working. He battled through it, got us five innings.”
Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney, Clevenger and David DeJesus joined Rizzo with two hits apiece for the Cubs, who finished with 12 hits overall.
Valbuena doubled home a run and Barney had a run-scoring single as the Cubs overcame another poor outing by starter Randy Wells.
Wells, subbing for injured right-hander Ryan Dempster in the rotation, lasted just three-plus innings. He was charged with three runs and six hits with four walks.
”Same old story, walking the pitcher,” Sveum said. ”Those kinds of things aren’t acceptable.”
Four relievers combined to shut out the Mets over the final five innings. Scott Maine (1-1) threw two scoreless innings for his first big league victory.
”I just tried to keep it close and was able to, came out the next inning and did the same thing,” Maine said. ”The guys after me tried to keep it close as possible and everybody did their job tonight.”
Carlos Marmol worked around a leadoff walk and finished for his fifth save of the season. He became the fourth Cubs pitcher to record 100 career saves.
Josh Thole had two hits and drove in a run for the Mets, who stranded 12 runners, leaving at least one man on base in every inning except the first, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis was caught stealing in that inning.
The Mets established an early two-run lead with four straight two-out singles in the second. Thole and Gee each drove in a run.
Chicago rallied with three runs in the third, aided by a pair of walks.
Notes: Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said while the club is still gathering information, his ”initial understanding” is CF Marlon Byrd’s 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs will not affect the amount of money the club is responsible for on Byrd’s contract. Chicago traded Byrd to the Red Sox on April 21. … Collins said there is still no timetable for the return of OF Jason Bay (concussion). Collins said a return before the All-Star break is conceivable, but optimistic. … Mets 1B Ike Davis was ejected in the eighth by first base umpire Manny Gonzalez after arguing a safe call on a pickoff attempt.