Addison Russell plays the “superhero” role to bring the Cubs to the brink
CLEVELAND – Leave it to the youth to get into the spirit of the holiday.
Sure a lot of the Cubs decided to heed the word of manager Joe Maddon and enjoy Halloween on Monday, a day after beating the Indians in Game 5 of the World Series.
Hence the team plane left a little late, allowing the team to get a little “Trick-or-Treating” done before heading back to Cleveland for Game 6. Everyone got a bit into the spirit as they dressed up to hop on the plane late Halloween night.
But Addison Russell took it to another level.
The 22-year old showed his youthful exuberance by dressing in a full “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” costume. So proud of the outfit, Russell promptly posted the picture to his Twitter and Instagram accounts before leaving on the team charter.
“Halloween’s my favorite holiday. It’s my nerd holiday; I go all out,” admitted the shortstop. “Just to have my friends there and family there to kind of vent to them and take off a little bit of pressure that I have, that was awesome.”
Good thing he figuratively didn’t take off his costume when he took the field 24 hours later.
After playing a superhero for Halloween, Russell was the same for the Cubs in a second-straight elimination on Tuesday night. He tied a World Series record with six RBI’s along with a few dazzling plays in the field to give the Cubs a 9-3 victory over the Indians.
It’s one of the best evenings of Russell’s two-year career and is a major reason the Cubs have forced a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night.
“It’s just been the same work ethic since day one. Not doing anything different,” said Russell of the performance. “Made some pretty good swings tonight. Definitely the confidence is up for tomorrow.”
Maybe more than to put on a turtle suit and board the team plane to Cleveland. Russell’s night started well enough when he blooped a fly ball between a pair of outfielders in center field to bring home two runs to extend the Cubs lead to 3-0.
If you thought that was his “Cowabunga” moment – that’s the rally cry of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in cartoons & movies – then you were in for a surprise. With a burst of power in his swing and the bases loaded around him, Russell parked his second homer of the playoffs into the left field stands.
The Grand Slam was the third in Cubs postseason history and the first ever in the World Series.
“We’ve been doing this all year, been breaking records, been putting in new history in history books, and you wouldn’t even be able to tell that just from us group of guys,” said Russell, who hit the first Grand Slam in the World Series in the MLB since Paul Konerko in 2005. “Everyone’s so professional. Everyone gets along together. It’s a great bunch of guys and they pick each other up.”
They’ve done that for Russell in what at times has been an up-and-down playoffs. After collecting just one hit in four National League Division Series games, Russell went hitless in the first three National League Championship Series games against the Dodgers.
But in the final three games he snapped out of the slump, collecting six hits and four RBI’s which all came after a Game 4 home run to snap him out of the funk.
After just two hits in the first four World Series game, Russell has again enjoyed a late-series surge. He got a ninth-inning hit in Game 4 then broke through for two more in Game 5 including his second RBI of the Fall Classic.
Game 6 was his greatest playoff moment of his young career, one that Maddon credits to his young shortstop’s ability to be patient.
“If you get over-eager right there, you’re going to put that sinker in play, it’s a ground ball to third base, inning over, none of this happens. But he was patient enough to get a pitch that he could work with,” said Maddon. “And that’s what we’re talking about with our young hitters. As they gain more experience, they’ll be able to do those kind of things.”
Like win the Cubs’ first World Series in 108 years?
That would make Russell and the others on the roster be superheroes in the eyes of the fans. But unlike the holiday the day before, the shortstop is not trying to be too loud with that assertion.
“We just want to have that sound mind,” said Russell of Game 7. “I think a lot of us are going into tomorrow thinking it’s just another game, but we’re going to give it all we have. That’s the approach that we’ve been taking this whole entire season and look where we are.
“So I think if we go with that mindset, I think that we’ll be pretty good.”
Then he’ll become a hero without having to wear the turtle suit.