Anthony Rizzo, Cubs show Carl Edwards Jr. they have his back


Cubs fans — numbering more than 38,000 — groaned at Wrigley Field Thursday night in a "here we go again" kind of way.

Carl Edwards Jr. came on to pitch the eighth inning with a three-run lead and proceeded to walk the leadoff batter on four pitches. The next batter then reached on an error by David Bote and the Wrigley faithful were getting a little ansty.

But instead of things going off the rails and the Cubs blowing the lead, Anthony Rizzo trotted out to the mound with a message for Edwards and was followed by pitching coach Jim Hickey from the dugout.

Edwards got the next batter to ground into a double play and induced a flyout after that, walking off the mound with a successful shutout inning.

On his way off the field, Rizzo ran up to Edwards and hugged him while catcher Willson Contreras came over and smacked Edwards on the chest in excitement.

So what did Rizzo say to Edwards that helped him turn the inning around?

"Just told him to get the next couple guys out," Rizzo said. "He's one of the best relievers in the game. Everyone goes through bumps in the road. He's gonna get a lot of big outs for us here this weekend and moving forward. He's gonna be a big part of what we're gonna do here."

Edwards said it meant a lot to him and served as a reminder that he's not out there alone.

Edwards wouldn't divulge exactly what Rizzo said, but admitted hearing from his teammate helped him refocus and understand that he belongs there. He said he cleared his mind, threw out everything that had already transpired in the inning and just got back to work. 

Rizzo occasionally shouts out advice or words of encouragement from his post at first base, Edwards said.

When 40,000 fans wearing your team's logo and colors are booing you and cursing your name in your home ballpark, the pitcher's mound can be an awfully lonely place. 

The Cubs are doing everything they can to ensure Edwards doesn't feel that alone anymore out there.

Edwards has had a tough go of it this month, but Rizzo is right — the Cubs need this guy. He has the best stuff and best swing-and-miss potential of any pitcher in that bullpen and especially without Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop's hamstring still a question mark, the Cubs can use all the bullpen help they can get now and in October.

"It's great. The guys get it," Joe Maddon said. "The guys understand that CJ pitching like CJ is what we need to advance through the whole tournament.

"You see how they reacted after they got the out. They were just so jacked up. Bully for our guys to recognize that to support a teammate."

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