CLEVELAND – As soon as Anthony Rizzo got to second after driving home Kris Bryant with a hit to right in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the biggest World Series bout of a century, he held his arms above his head like a boxer on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Then he coiled and threw a pair of combination punches in the air toward Cubs teammates.
Rizzo has been doing this Rocky thing since the Cubs lost Game 4 at home Saturday to fall into a 3-1 hole in the Series. He played the movie in the clubhouse before each game, had a Rocky-heavy sound mix played at Wrigley as the Cubs worked out before Game 5 and threatened to dress up like the fictional Italian Stallion for the team’s Halloween travel day between games.
“And he’s quoting him in the dugout during the game,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He was yelling something about ‘Mick’ [Tuesday]. The whole game, he’ll be sitting behind me there before his at-bat, and he’s throwing Rocky-isms out at us. I think it’s great.”
Said Rizzo as the Cubs tried to pull off the first 3-1 World Series comeback since the 1985 Royals:
“We just pulled it out all. We’re going to battle. We’ve got to go the distance.”
In the dugout during the game Rizzo smiled huge at veteran teammate David Ross and said, “I can’t control myself. I’m an emotional wreck.”
Ross’ response: “Wait till the ninth. It’s going to get worse.”
Never mind the 10th.
Grandpa Rossy: Going, going, gone!
Ross, who has been on his own emotional thrill ride through this postseason as he counted down the final hours to retirement, took a parting shot with a sixth-inning home run off Indians bullpen ace Andrew Miller.
It extended the Cubs’ lead to 6-3 after the Indians had rallied for a pair of runs that both scored on a crazy wild pitch from Jon Lester that Ross couldn’t contain in the bottom of the fifth.
Lester and Ross had entered together in relief of Kyle Hendricks and catcher Willson Contreras earlier that inning.
“Might as well take it all the way to the last day,” Ross said as the Cubs prepared for Game 7. “I’ve known for a while it could come to an end all of a sudden, good or bad, at any point. Now I know [Game 7] will be my last baseball game.
“It’s scary in one sense and kind of cool in another. Game 7 – I’ve never been part of a Game 7 of a World Series.”
Invasion of the ticket snatchers
Cubs fans poured into Progressive Field for Game 7, with an even bigger number than the night before for Game 6.
Stubhub said up to 60 percent of transactions in the run-up to game time came from the Chicago area market. Standing room tickets, available for $1,000 on Tuesday night, were going for $750 by 6 p.m. CST, two hours before game time.
Notes: Dexter Fowler’s home run leading off the game was the first in a World Series Game 7. It was the Cubs’ second postseason home run leading off a game (Bob Dernier, 1984, Game 1, National League Championship Series). …The Cubs improved to 9-15 in postseason elimination games in franchise history as they went for their third straight victory in one on Wednesday. …Asked how much fun it is to play in a Game 7 of a World Series, John Lackey – the only Cubs player to do it before Wednesday – said: “You’re not having fun when you’re competing. Winning’s the only thing that’s fun.”
Daryl Van Schouwen contributed to this report