Growing up: Bryant forces issue in key at-bat
Rookie homers, prompts review which overturns call, giving Cubs fighting chance in ninth
CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant has settled into the Major Leagues after 36 games with the Chicago Cubs.
Bryant spoke up for himself after home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney initially ruled that he struck out on a foul tip to begin the bottom of the ninth in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Nationals on Monday afternoon. Bryant felt closer Drew Storen's pitch grazed his wrist.
The Cubs challenged and, after review, the call was overturned and Bryant was awarded first base.
"I knew it hit me," Bryant said. "I felt it on my wrist. I usually don't say much, but that's an important situation. I'm a leadoff guy getting on base. That's all I wanted to do. You're battling up there. It's nice to have the replay work like that. I think we were all pleased it worked that way."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon exited the dugout to consult with Bryant and the umpires.
"I can't tell, but I'm going to believe him," Maddon said. "He was very convincing. That's the component of instant replay: when it works in your favor, you love it."
After Bryant was hit by the pitch, Storen earned his league-leading 15th save after getting a popout, a flyout and a strikeout.
Bryant went 2-for-3, including his sixth home run and an infield single, raising his average to .282. All of his home runs have come in his last 16 games, and he has hit safely in 13 of his last 14. He leads the team with 30 RBIs.
"[I'm] just more comfortable in general," he said. "The first couple weeks I was here, I was kind of amped up a little bit and kind of settled into a role here and kind of know what I'm supposed to do up there. Nerves are not there anymore. It's good for me."
• Maddon adjusted the Cubs' lineup to help his players deal with a "tough" schedule that included an afternoon game Sunday in Phoenix followed by a 1:20 CT start on Monday in Chicago. David Ross, normally Jon Lester's catcher, started on Monday instead of Miguel Montero. Addison Russell returned to the lineup at second base after Jonathan Herrera started at that position Sunday.
• Maddon noted that the Cubs play at different times during the week. Tuesday's game starts at 6:05 p.m. CT followed by a 7:05 p.m. start on Wednesday. The team is off Thursday before facing the Royals in a 3:05 game on Friday and a 6:15 game on Saturday.
Maddon said his team would make no excuses, and he noted that playoff schedules often have varying times. But he wished the Cubs had a later start on Monday.
"I don't understand why the Memorial Day game has to be played during the day," Maddon said.
• Both teams wore uniforms with camouflage lettering and numbering for Memorial Day.
• The Cubs have scored 13 of their last 24 runs on home runs.