Bryant flashes leather, forgets bat in Cubs debut
The day didn’t go as storybook as we all had hoped. For the Chicago Cubs, after an afternoon of what was seemingly a massive strike zone–they got pinched at the worst possible time. And there were no heroics forKris Bryant
at the plate, although he did look sparkling in the field. In the end, it was the Padres stealing a 5-4 win from the Cubs late on aWil Myers
home run in the seventh.
The Cubs (5-4) got on the board first on a sacrifice bunt from Jonathan Herrera. Trying to move Jason Hammel to third, he laid down a bunt fielded by James Shields (2-0, 2.84), he threw the ball away, allowing Hammel to score. Herrera would score shortly after on a wild pitch, after dancing up and down the line getting Shields attention.
The Padres (7-4) would tie it up in the fourth on a Will Middlebrooks two-run home run to right off of Hammel. Just like the Myers at bat late in the game, the Cubs thought they had a strikeout–only to have it called a ball. The pitch was much less obvious to be a strike to Middlebrooks, but it was a call that umpire Sam Holbrook had been giving all day.
In the fifth, the Cubs strung together four consecutive hits. Hererra singled, followed Dexter Fowler, who had a three-hit game, who singled. Jorge Soler then smoked a single up the middle that Shields deflected but didn’t slow it down as Hererra scored. Anthony Rizzo followed with a double off the first base bag, and the Cubs were up 4-2.
After the Myers home run in the seventh off of Schlitter (0-1, 8.10), the Cubs got a man in scoring position on a Fowler double that got stuck in the vines. The Padres then walked Rizzo to get to Bryant. He hit a sharp grounder to third, resulting in a force out to end the inning.
What Stood Out:
For all the talk about his bat, Bryant showed he can play an adequate third base. He made the routine plays, including starting the double play in the first, as well as a fantastic diving grab in the fifth. He very well may be able to handle the hype that surrounds him, but it was clear there were jitters at the plate.
This is part of the reason Theo Epstein would have preferred to debut him on the road. You don’t get a standing ovation on every pitch, RBI opportunity or other. Bryant will have his fair share of strikeouts, and today he was simply bested by a veteran in Shields. But he’ll get his hits. Just like they’ve said, Worth the wait.
Joe Maddon wasted no time getting his first ejection. After a few questionable calls, Maddon came out after the Myers home run intent on letting Holbrook know what he thought of his effort on the day. You could read Maddon’s lips–“all five runs”–as being attributed to Holbrook’s questionable strike zone.
The Cubs will face off with the Padres in another 1:20 p.m. CT start on Saturday, with Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 10.38) facing off against Tyson Ross (1-0, 3.75). Hendricks struggled a bit in his opener in Colorado, allowing five runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. The Cubs did however win that game thanks to a Fowler home run in the ninth.