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Shot at all-city Series has Anthony Rizzo excited

The Cubs star scored the only run of the game in the first inning as Kyle Hendricks stymied the Twins.

Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs scores past Mitch Garver #8 of the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a game at Wrigley Field on September 18, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

An all-Chicago World Series for only the second time in history?

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo would be lying if he said the thought of facing the crosstown White Sox on the game’s biggest stage hadn’t crossed his mind.

‘‘It’s a long way away to getting there, but that would be something that would be very special to the city, for sure,’’ Rizzo said before serving as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter Friday against the Twins at Wrigley Field.

Rizzo was 19 and battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, the last time the Sox qualified for the postseason. While he admittedly tries to ‘‘check out’’ when he’s away from the ballpark, he has taken note of the rise of the American League Central-leading South Siders.

‘‘They have a team, watching them, that’s very similar to us in 2015, that started off with a lot of talent and has found ways to win, and now they’re a powerhouse team,’’ said Rizzo, who walked and scored the only run of the game in the first inning of the Cubs’ 1-0 victory Friday behind eight scoreless innings from Kyle Hendricks. ‘‘Over here, we have guys that have won and know what the playoffs are like. It very well could come down to that, and that would be amazing.’’

It will take more than a bit of luck, he acknowledged, for the teams to meet in the World Series for the first time in 114 years.

‘‘There’s going to be a couple of calls that don’t go your way or [do] go your way in the playoffs that are going to determine that,’’ Rizzo said, ‘‘and some adversity you’re going to have to deal with.’’

As the National League Central-leading Cubs near their fifth postseason berth in six years, Rizzo suggested the stretch drive would be headier for the youthful Sox after they clinched a postseason spot Thursday.

‘‘It’s an exciting time; it’s definitely exciting for the White Sox, for sure,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘I don’t mean this with any disrespect, but I didn’t realize it was since ’08 [that] they made the playoffs the last time.”

For the Cubs to uphold their end of the deal, they will have to flip the Hitless Wonders script of 1906.

Rizzo, who said on-field tee work before recent games has helped him feel more comfortable at the plate, emphasized the value of a well-timed hot streak this week in a ‘‘very organic’’ clubhouse chat with teammates Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.

‘‘When our whole lineup comes together, we’re really scary,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘We’ve seen Kris carry our team for a long stretch. We’ve seen Schwarber do it. We’ve seen Javy do it. Myself. A couple of us heat up at the right time, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Video restrictions have made in-game adjustments more challenging for hitters around the game, Rizzo said, but the Cubs are doing all they can to share (legal) intel with each other between plate appearances.

With a surging bullpen and significant playoff experience, the Cubs think they are well-positioned under rookie manager David Ross to survive the expanded gantlet that lies ahead. Making it to the doorstep of the playoff bubble without a COVID-19 outbreak has soothed the players’ nerves, as well.

‘‘Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now is going to take a lot of stress off everyone,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘We know we could still get COVID, but I feel we’ve done a really good job at eliminating a lot of the outside variables. Getting to the homestretch . . . it will be good for guys to kind of exhale a little bit. That would be a sign of good things to come.’’