Bash brothers: Bryzzo powers red-hot Cubs

Chicago's winning ways mirrors the resurgence of its top two sluggers

May 10th, 2019

CHICAGO -- The clip played on a TV inside the Cubs' clubhouse in the hours before Thursday's game against the Marlins. When it came on, got 's attention, so the star third baseman could watch the footage of his first career home run from four years ago in Milwaukee.

The blast disappeared over the wall in center field at Miller Park, and Bryant returned to an empty dugout. He ran into the tunnel, where his team was waiting to celebrate his initial Major League power display. Prior to Thursday's 4-1 win over the Marlins, Bryant got a kick out of seeing some of the old teammates and coaches who appeared in the video from 113 home runs ago.

"I was just impressed with who was on the team. It's kind of funny," Bryant said with a laugh after the game. "It's just crazy how quick this game goes by. You're always caught up in the moment of the teammates here and now, and you forget about all the guys you've played with in the past and how much fun it's been.

"It just goes by so quick, so it's really important to kind of sit back and appreciate it once in a while."

Chicago is certainly appreciating what Bryant and are doing right now.

For Bryant, Thursday marked an anniversary. For Rizzo, it was an afternoon that produced another milestone. Together, the Cubs’ power duo continued their recent resurgence to claim another victory for the ballclub, which has rattled off 10 wins in 11 games on the eve of welcoming the rival Brewers to town for a three-game weekend set at Wrigley Field.

Bryant's first career blast came against Kyle Lohse in a loss in Milwaukee on May 9, 2015. It took 92 plate appearances for him to finally clear a fence in his National League Rookie of the Year Award-winning tour. In his first at-bat on Thursday, Bryant crushed a first-pitch fastball from Miami starter Trevor Richards into the left-field bleacher seats for a solo shot. The blast was Bryant’s fourth in the past five games and his seventh on the season.

"I've been a baseball player that hits home runs since I was in Little League," Bryant said. "It's not something that I try to do, necessarily. It just kind of happens. When you are trying to do it, that's when it doesn't happen. So I'm not really trying right now."

Bryant, who is in the midst of a 19-game on-base streak, later drew a one-out walk in the fifth inning, bringing Rizzo to the plate. The Cubs first baseman also attacked the first pitch -- this time a curve well below the zone from Richards -- and sent it to center for a two-run shot to give Chicago a 4-1 lead.

That home run was Rizzo’s 10th on the campaign, but also his 200th in a Cubs uniform. He is the ninth hitter in franchise history to reach that plateau. Bill Nicholson is next on the Cubs’ all-time list with 205 career homers with the club.

"Those guys have been unbelievable," said Cubs pitcher , who logged five shutout innings of relief en route to a win. "They've been the cornerstone of this team since I've been here, for a long time. To have them play as good as they are, it's why we're winning."

The combined production of Bryant and Rizzo helped overcome a shaky start from , who exited after four innings. Darvish yielded just one run on one hit, but the righty walked six and allowed four stolen bases in a laborsome 97-pitch effort.

Back on April 17, Rizzo was batting .159 with a .629 OPS and Bryant was hitting at a .219 clip with a .668 OPS.

The duo has heated up in unison over the past three weeks. In the time since their respective slow starts, Bryant and Rizzo have hit a combined .320/.451/.750 with 13 home runs, 12 doubles, 37 RBIs and more walks (25) than strikeouts (19) in 162 plate appearances. With their work on Thursday, Bryant (1-for-2 with two walks and the homer) and Rizzo (2-for-4 with the homer and a single) now have a .918 OPS and a .937 OPS, respectively, on the year.

Early in the season, hitters like Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward did a lot of the heavy lifting, buying time for Bryant and Rizzo to find their offensive footing. Now, Chicago's corner-infield tandem is returning the favor.

"That's what this team has always been about," Bryant said. "It's never been just one or two guys. It's been a collective effort. All of our success since I've been here, it's never just been one standout guy. So that's kind of what makes this team what we are. And that's fun to be a part of."