For weeks, manager David Ross has talked about what having a healthy Kris Bryant back in the lineup could do for the Cubs’ offense.
In his first game back after missing four games because of tightness in his right oblique, Bryant didn’t disappoint in Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the White Sox.
Batting fifth and playing his customary third base, Bryant singled in first at-bat and scored in the second inning against the White Sox. But that only would be the beginning of his big night.
The Cubs appeared to be in danger of wasting a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the third before Bryant came up with his biggest swing of the season. He crushed a first-pitch breaking ball from Sox starter Dane Dunning deep into the left-field seats for a grand slam, giving the Cubs a short-lived 5-2 lead. The 419-foot blast was Bryant’s fifth career slam and his first home run since Aug. 12.
“I figured a lot of pitchers try to jam me in with sinkers,” Bryant said. “You try to look for something out over [the plate], but he kind of flips in a slider that he probably didn’t want to throw middle-in. And sometimes, you just see it and you just swing. It just kind of falls into your barrel. I feel like I’ve been waiting all year for one like that just to kind of fall right into my barrel. You know, that felt very good.”
The Cubs hope Bryant, who struck out and flied to center in his last two at-bats, can find a rhythm at the plate before the National League playoffs start Wednesday. He has had a season to forget in 2020, entering the game Saturday with a .195/.283/.301 slash line after battling various injuries.
“Just want to get at-bats,” Bryant said. “Just want to make sure that everything’s feeling good and confident. It’s always nice to go out there and get two hits in your first two-at bats. So that felt good and it feels good to be on top of the [NL] Central.”
“KB going oppo his first at-bat, then hitting the homer there. Like I said, with what we’re planning on doing in the postseason, It’s it’s going to take all of us and Kris is going to be a huge part of what we’re doing in the postseason,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.
Ross on Sox’ punishments
Ross weighed in after Major League Baseball suspended Sox manager Rick Renteria for one game and reliever Jimmy Cordero for three after Cordero hit Cubs catcher Willson Contreras with a pitch Friday. The pitch was an apparent retaliation for Contreras flipping his bat toward the Cubs’ dugout after hitting a homer earlier in the game.
‘‘I have a lot of confidence in [senior vice president] Chris Young and Major League Baseball, his ability to assess the situation in real time,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I know how it looked. I think Ricky knows how it looked and Major League Baseball knows how it looked, and it looked really bad. So they did their job, and we’ll move on.’’