Cubs’ David Ross: Full capacity Wrigley Field ‘helped us win’

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Ross on full capacity Wrigley: ‘Those fans helped us win’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Standing on second base, Cubs outfielder Joc Pederson pumped his palms toward the sky. But the Cubs faithful didn’t need any extra prompting to cheer for his go-ahead two-run double.

On the first day of full-capacity approval at Wrigley Field since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crowd was already roaring.

“You can definitely see the energy in the players and the focus and the emotions rise a little bit,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the Cubs’ 8-5 win against the Cardinals. “That's such a great thing.”

Cubs players had gushed about the energy their fans produced at just 60 percent capacity last month. But the deafening applause that shook the stadium Friday was like nothing Wrigley Field had seen in years. The team announced 35,112 were in attendance for the first game of the weekend series.

“Clearly, those fans helped us win that game,” Ross said.

The fans were already loud as the Cubs chipped away at the Cardinals’ initial four-run lead, giving Sergio Alcántara’s RBI triple, and dash home on a failed pickoff attempt, standing ovations in the fifth inning.

The example Ross used to back up his claim, however, came in the sixth.

The Cubs were down one run, with one out, when Anthony Rizzo stepped to the plate. The cleanup hitter fell behind in the count, 0-2. As he started fouling off pitches, the crowd noise swelled.

“It almost in a way helped me calm down and relax and just stay in the moment,” Rizzo said. “I just kept saying to myself after I fouled off pitches, ‘Just stay locked in, stay locked, in calm down.’”

Rizzo fouled off 10 pitches in all. Then, he crushed the 14th pitch of the at-bat over the right field wall.

By then, Cubs fans were already on their feet. But their cheers jumped to a new level when the ball landed. Arms waved and hands clapped all over the stadium. Rizzo rounded the bases and headed for the dugout entrance where Pederson met him for a chest bump.

Tie ballgame.

Before leading the seventh-inning stretch, comedian and Cubs superfan Bill Murray posed a challenge to the crowd.

“We’re going to be louder than right now,” Murray said, his voice booming over the Wrigley Field sound system, “until the last out in the top of the ninth inning.”

The fans complied.

Pederson, who also homered in the fourth inning, had predicted two days prior that a full capacity Wrigley Field would be “rocking.” When he doubled off the wall in the bottom half of the seventh, there was no better way to describe it.

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