Strop draws smiles for pacing Bryant on HR
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pedro Strop was warming up in the bullpen when he heard the "boom" of Kris Bryant's bat in the ninth inning Monday. The Cubs reliever recognized the sound and knew he didn't have to worry about pitching any more that day.
Bryant hit a walk-off solo homer with two outs in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Indians at Wrigley Field. Check out the video because it shows Strop sprinting from the bullpen in time to run step for step with Bryant from third to home.
"I started running, and then all of a sudden, I'm like, 'I'm going to time it and I'm going to score with him,'" Strop said Tuesday. "I saw [the replay]. I didn't know it was going to be that funny."
As a late-inning reliever, Strop doesn't get many chances to run the bases. He did play shortstop in the Minor Leagues.
"I didn't run a lot," Strop said smiling, "because I wasn't a great hitter."
The moment, which was the Cubs' 12th walk-off this season, will be featured on a regional Sports Illustrated cover this week.
"I really like [Strop] mirroring, shadowing [Bryant]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I've always loved that [type of] picture -- that became prominent, that greeting at home plate after the significant home run. I had one in my office after a Cliff Floyd home run versus the White Sox. You see pure joy on the part of everybody. I thought it was pretty cool."
Does Maddon believe in the SI cover jinx?
"None," Maddon said. "I know I've succumbed to socks, so I guess I've opened myself up to that kind of scrutiny. I think it's kind of neat that we're on the cover for our fans and the players. It's kind of a significant moment."
Maddon was wearing the same camo-colored socks during two winning streaks of six games and nine games. Now, he's switched to a new pair.
"I've given a different pair an opportunity at this time," he said. "They've won five in a row. They're not awful [smelling]."
The media attention will get more intense as the season winds down and the Cubs' chances of getting to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 increase.
"I love it," Maddon said. "I love the fact that the games are meaningful, I love that people will use the word 'pressure' a lot and there will be scrutiny. I love that. It's good for our guys. We anticipate being there this year and in years to come. It's a good thing. ... It's the best moment. It's what you play for. To this point, I think our guys have handled it really well."