Bryant, Cubs snap out of hitting funk, roll past Cleveland
How long the Cubs can keep this up remains to be seen. But Tuesday's 7-1 victory over Cleveland was a night of broken streaks.
For starters, it ended a streak of nine straight games where the Cubs scored no more than 3 runs. They actually scored 4 times in a single inning in the sixth -- without a home run.
Kris Bryant snapped a 2-for-32 slump at the plate by homering in his second at-bat in the fourth inning. It ended a run of 48 at-bats and 56 plate appearances since his last home run on June 4 in San Francisco. Bryant's streak of 48 at-bats without an extra-base hit was a career-long.
"Yeah, I'm just trying to be a little more patient," Bryant said after the game. "They're not really throwing me much over the middle of the plate last two games. Sometimes you've just got to be patient, take your walks, three in two games is pretty good. I'm good with those results.
Ryan Tepera's scoreless streak ended at 20⅓ innings, though he did recover from a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam to limit Cleveland to just 1 run.
Willson Contreras and Patrick Wisdom hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning to put it away.
Kyle Hendricks, meanwhile, pitched six scoreless inning to extend his streak of winning eight consecutive starts and is now 10-4 on the season.
"Willie (Contreras) just kept me in it the whole game, really sequenced things well, kept them off balance," Hendricks said. "A couple pitches were hit hard, but they were still good pitches. So I don't think I made many bad pitches tonight."
Cleveland starter Eli Morgan was making his third major league start. In his first two outings, he gave up 9 runs in 6 innings. But through 5 innings in this game, Morgan had given up only the Bryant home run, so technically no baserunners.
For the first time in awhile, though, the Cubs finally strung together some hits in the sixth. It started with a double by Sergio Alcantara, single from Rafael Ortega, then a 2-run double by Joc Pederson, all hard-hit line drives.
Morgan was replaced by Nick Sandlin, who walked Kris Bryant and gave up a ground-rule double down the left field line to Javy Baez. Contreras singled home Bryant to make it 5-0, and did an unusual bat flip, carrying it with him halfway to first base, then giving it a spin as he dropped it. Sandlin's next pitch, to Patrick Wisdom, was high and inside.
Next up for the Cubs is their longest road trip of the season, with four games in Los Angeles this weekend, followed by three each in Milwaukee and Cincinnati. Ross said the Cubs were planning a "Space Jam" clothing theme for the flight to L.A.
The fireworks from Monday night had died down completely by the time this one started. Ross made a bold move by removing shortstop Javy Baez from the game after he lost track of the outs and was doubled off first base to end the fourth inning.
Baez didn't offer any complaints after the game, saying, "I was just surprised. Obviously, I never want to be out of the lineup. I just respect his decision. He told me why it happened and I just say, 'OK, it's your decision.'"
Before Tuesday's game, Ross gave Baez credit for taking ownership of the situation.
"That's Jav," Ross said. "I want both sides told in those moments. I want my thoughts, his thoughts. We had a good conversation. I think that's just being a man and him being able to get his words out and what he was thinking. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think it's a positive, right? Pretty commendable from my seat."