Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant enjoys some home cooking
By Jake Misener
Kris Bryant has performed notably better at Wrigley Field than on the road this season. And it’s largely due to the fact that, for the first time in years, the Friendly Confines are just that – friendly.
As you no-doubt know by now, the Cubs’ slugger belted his 20th home run of the season Monday afternoon, a walk-off blast that lifted Chicago to its fifth-straight win.
It’s become a familiar sight at Wrigley this season; Bryant has hit 17 of his 20 long-balls this season there and has a 1.022 OPS at home, as opposed to a disappointing .667 mark on the road.
So what’s the difference?
While you can chalk it up to Bryant enjoying good hitters’ conditions in Chicago, especially as temperatures have warmed, there’s a lot more to it than that. What exactly goes into this? It’s simple: the atmosphere at the Confines this season are unparalleled across the game and it’s paying dividends.
I know it sounds insane – that fans would somehow be able to will their teams to victories, but after Monday’s walk-off, the Cubs’ league-leading 12th of that variety, there’s more than enough evidence to make you think about it for a minute.
Don’t get me wrong: the team still loses at home. That’s not debatable. I was there with my co-editor Nicholas Blazek for the now-infamous “Peralta Game” against St. Louis in July, a month that Bryant himself would like to forget, as well.
In July, the Chicago rookie posted his worst numbers of the season, batting just .168/.270/.368 in 26 games. During that stretch, the Cubs went 15-12, hovering near the .500 mark. But when the calendar turned over to August, both the team and Bryant got white-hot – and remain so heading into a pivotal series in San Francisco against the Giants this week.
So far this month, Chicago is 17-4; already boasting win streaks of nine and five games, respectively. The next three weeks may very well decide the Cubs’ postseason fate – with key matchups with the Giants, Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates all in order.
But what I can’t help but coming back to is this: when Kris Bryant is doing his thing at the plate – taking pitches, working the count and driving the ball – the Chicago Cubs are a force-to-be-reckoned with.
And with Bryant tearing the cover off the ball this month, that’s a very good thing for Cubs Nation.