Organist John Benedeck treated the Wrigley Field faithful to a cheery rendition of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” before the fading Cubs rolled Friday in the opener of what could be the final homestand for several key players.
No lyrics, of course, but it was impossible not to substitute your own as you hummed along with the timeless hit from Rockford’s finest.
“Surrender … surrender … but don’t give [Kris] Bryant away.”
Back in the lineup for this 8-3 victory over the lowly Diamondbacks after missing two starts with fatigue in his right hamstring, Bryant went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and two strikeouts. The left fielder received a nice hand from the home crowd as he stepped in the first time, then drew a full-count walk.
Two batters later, Javy Baez bashed a first-pitch slider into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer and a lead the Cubs never relinquished. Baez had gone 37 at-bats without a homer, dating to his two-blast game at home against the Phillies on July 6.
Bryant saw 14 pitches through his first two trips, walking on another full count in the third before chasing offspeed pitches to strike out in his final two cracks. He also was forced out at home on a hard slide in the third, a fair test for his hamstring after he was limited to one pinch-hit walk (Thursday in St. Louis) since exiting Tuesday’s game after five innings.
Nostalgia might have felt a little forced as the Cubs wore their pajama-style “City Connect” uniforms with “Wrigleyville” across the front. Yet, even with the home nine wearing a dark/light blue combo that conjures the Rays more than the glory years of this not-quite modern dynasty, the 34,059 in attendance had to grasp the significance of the moment.
“It’s really nice to be home in a situation where there’s a lot of uncertainty, and we should appreciate what we have here because this is a really special place,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I know what it’s like to not be able to play here on a regular basis. I missed it as soon as I didn’t get to do it.”
Barring a last-minute surge back into wild-card contention, the Cubs figure to deal a few more key pieces before the July 30 trade deadline. Bryant, headed for free agency after the season, appears to be foremost among those.
Right-hander Zach Davies, another potential trade chip in the final year of his contract, struck out eight in 5⅓ innings and left with a 7-0 lead before being charged with two earned runs. The strikeout total was one off Davies’ career high as he was pushed to a season-high 107 pitches.
“I’ve been traded three times before,” Davies said. “I know what it’s about. I know it’s there. I’m not naive about it. But I’m going to prepare for the Reds … if I’m here. If not, or if anybody else isn’t on the team, it is what it is.”
While Davies might be on to Cincinnati, at least mentally, the ex-Brewer and ex-Padre knows that might not be as easy for those who never have been through this before.
“When guys get worried too much about that, it takes them out of their game,” Davies said. “We’ve got a week left before the deadline. That’s a week of baseball [in which] guys could enhance their value for themselves, for the team, for whatever it may be.”