"It's really exciting," the Cubs left-hander said about closing games.
Russell has a save, his first, and a win in his last two outings, and pumped his arms coming off the mound after both.
"I usually don't show that much emotion but there are times when you get fired up," he said. "If I let everybody know I'm fired up, maybe it'll fire up the guys in the dugout. I like being in those situations."
Of course, Russell's goal is the same, whether he's pitching in the sixth or the ninth.
"It's only because it's later in the game, the last couple innings; that's why it gets blown up," he said. "I see no difference between any of the innings. They're equally important. There's a big aura about the ninth inning for some reason."
Maybe that's because usually there's no one left in the bullpen to back the closer up.
"It's fun, a good change," Russell said. "I like it. Never in my right mind did I think I'd be in the big leagues closing a game. Why not? I'm here, I might as well get out there."
His father, Jeff Russell, was a successful closer, totaling 186 career saves. James has talked to his dad about the job.
"We talked about how fun it is," Russell said. "Once you get to two outs and the crowd gets on their feet going crazy, he told me to make sure you calm yourself down and stay with your game plan and everything will work out. He also told me I have 185 more to go."