This time, Kris Bryant’s homer against the Marlins is a game-winner for the Cubs
CHICAGO – In a painful finish, perhaps a wonderful moment in the future was foretold.
Down by two runs to the Marlins Monday night, Kris Bryant smashed a 409-foot homer onto Waveland Avenue to get the Cubs within one. Things didn’t end up working out – as Sergio Romo shutdown the Cubs the rest of the inning to snap the team’s seven-game winning streak.
It was a gut-punch after a great stretch, even for an early game in May, considering the bullpen’s three-run meltdown in the top of the ninth. But that homer for Bryant was a prelude to the heroics that were coming for the third baseman and the Cubs.
In the process, Kris added a signature moment to his strong stretch at the plate in late April and early May.
With the game tied at two in the bottom of the ninth and a pair of runners on base, Bryant hit a two-run homer to left-center field to give the Cubs a walk-off 5-2 victory over Miami. The third baseman was mobbed by his teammates at home plate after reaching home plate and was eventually soaked with water in a warm celebration on a chilly night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are now 20-13, and with a Cardinals loss reclaimed first place in the NL Central. Yet the most encouraging thing comes from Bryant, who is finding the hitting stroke that defined the first three seasons of his career.
It’s the third-straight game in which the third baseman has hit a homer, coming after a Grand Slam on Sunday night against the Cardinals and the Monday night blast off Romo. This one came with the game tied at two in the ninth with runners on first and third with one out.
Adam Conley came out with three-straight fastballs to Bryant, but he wouldn’t get away with a fourth, as Bryant dropped that delivery into the first four rows of the bleachers to give the Cubs a victory.
This moment is the highlight of an incredible turnaround for Bryant, who was hitting .217 at the end of the Cubs’ game against the Marlins in Miami on April 16. Before Tuesday’s game starting on April 19, Bryant was hitting .275 with four homers and 14 RBI, sporting a .441 on-base percentage while slugging .627.
In just the month of May, Bryant’s average is .350 with the three homers in the last three games with 10 RBI with his on-base at .500 and slugging .950. All have risen Bryant’s average to .250 for the year with six homers and 23 RBI.
Perhaps it’s fitting that this stretch has come at the time that the Cubs have ascended from the bottom of the division to the top. From April 19 through Tuesday, the Cubs are 12-4 as he along with teammate Anthony Rizzo (.351 with six homers and 17 RBI since that date) finding their stride after slow starts.
But that seems behind Bryant now, who got the ending just perfect on Tuesday night.