CHICAGO -- When Kristopher Bryant connects, Cubs manager Joe Maddon can hear it.
"It's a different sound," Maddon said of the noise the reigning National League Most Valuable Player makes when he hits a home run. "It's got a deep, bassy sound to it. When a ball is well-struck, and you're on field level, it's absolutely an impressive, incredible sound, and he's got it."
Maddon heard it twice on Saturday as Bryant hit his first home run of the season, a 451-foot shot off the left-field video board in the first inning, and then added another in the ninth that just reached the basket rimming the left-field bleachers. However, it wasn't enough as the Cubs lost, 8-7, to the Pirates at a windy Wrigley Field.
"You have to play the elements here," Bryant said. "When it's cold and windy and blowing in, you have to scratch across a run. Today, the first inning was great, but you never know if that's enough."
The Cubs hit for the cycle in the first inning as Kyle Schwarber doubled to set up Bryant's homer, Addison Russell hit an RBI triple and Jason Heyward added an RBI single to open a 4-0 lead. It was the sixth time a player has hit the left-field video board; Bryant has now done so four times.
"Is that a record?" he asked.
Right now, he's the leader in that category. Saturday marked his eighth career multi-homer game.
"I didn't even know it hit the scoreboard until I got in the dugout," Bryant said of his first home run. "I guess it does feel different -- you feel like you really got it. It's a nice target out there, especially in batting practice and the wind blowing out."
According to Statcast™, the ball traveled 451 feet -- Bryant's fourth-longest of the Statcast™ era -- and had an exit velocity of 105 mph. Bryant's second homer had an exit velocity of 89.9 mph and a launch angle of 33 degrees -- a combination good for a hit probability of just 6 percent.
"He would tell you he didn't land on that ball as well as he can, which is even more impressive to see the ball off the scoreboard on a 75 percent swing," Cubs starting pitcher Jacob Arrieta said of Bryant's first blast. "It re-emphasizes the fact that on a day like today, you want to keep the ball on the ground if possible. You know the hitters will be antsy to elevate the ball and get it in the air."
"We were all giddy seeing the wind blowing out," Bryant said. "Everybody wants to overswing, and swing at pitches you're not supposed to swing at just to get the ball in the air. We're all victim of it."