Notes: KB keeps promise; 9th a 'team effort'

August 5th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Before headed to Wrigley Field on Monday, he made a playful promise to his young son. Not that 3-month-old Kyler will remember it, but his dad told him he would hit a home run for him that night.

Then, Bryant sent a seventh-inning pitch cutting through a howling wind and over the left-field wall, helping Chicago to a 2-0 victory over the Royals. The Cubs' third baseman said his wife reminded him that he came through on his pregame pact.

"I don't think I've ever told anybody that, 'I'm going to hit you a homer,' and then I actually do," Bryant said after Monday's win. "So, it's kind of cool to be able to tell him that when he's a little older.

"He doesn't remember anything now, just about when to get fed, when he's going to sleep and when it's bath time."

The homer came as part of a solid return to the lineup for Bryant, who pulled off a hustle double in the first inning, drew a walk in the fifth and later added his first blast of the 2020 season. That performance came after a two-day hiatus, during which Bryant went through MLB's COVID-19 protocols after self-reporting stomach issues.

Bryant was cleared to rejoin the team and, if his day at the ballpark was any indication, looked to be feeling much better.

Following Monday's win, Bryant was asked how often he has promised Kyler a homer this season.

"That was the first time," Bryant said with a smile. "I'll probably do it tomorrow, too."

All hands on deck for ninth
In the wake of Craig Kimbrel's rough outing on Friday, Cubs manager David Ross has taken a committee approach to the final frames. It has been a way to help buy Kimbrel time as he sorts through some mechanical issues behind the scenes.

In Saturday's win over the Pirates, Jeremy Jeffress and Kyle Ryan worked in setup situations and Rowan Wick record the final two outs for the save. Dan Winkler, Ryan Tepera and Jeffress covered the ninth, 10th and 11th in Sunday's victory. On Monday night, Wick turned in a four-out save.

"Every night will be different," Ross said. "It's going to be a full-team effort down there. Those guys, I'm not scared to pull the trigger in a lot of areas with a lot of those guys. So, I'm trying to match those guys up for success.

"They've done a really good job of answering the bell here lately, and we'll continue to assess on a daily basis."

Worth noting
• Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein held a Zoom discussion with Chicago reporters prior to Tuesday's game. He noted that the Cubs are currently operating as though their series against the Cardinals this coming weekend will happen as planned.

"Major League Baseball has a lot to work through with the Cardinals each day to try to assess the situation," Epstein said. "We're approaching it as if we're going there to play. We have to prepare to go, and we'll just wait to hear definitive word when it comes."

St. Louis had its series against the Tigers postponed this week due to a group of positive COVID-19 tests among the Cardinals' players and staff.

• Prior to Monday's game, David Bote worked on a handful of specific plays at third base with bench coach Andy Green. Then, Bote made a pair of highlight-reel gems. In the fourth, he ranged to his right to grab an Alex Gordon grounder, throwing to first on the run for an out. Bote later charged on a bunt by Adalberto Mondesi and made another stellar scoop-and-throw in the seventh.

"Dave was working on the slow rollers [Monday] with Andy," Ross said, "knowing there might be some bunt attempts. Phenomenal plays. Two barehanded slow rollers on the run. He's played great over there at third."

• The Cubs' rotation limited opposing hitters to a .156 batting average in the first 10 games. That is the lowest mark allowed by any MLB team's starting pitchers through the first 10 games of a season in the live-ball era (since 1920), per STATS, Inc.

"He has stepped in and helped address some things that have been lingering for years. And to do that his first month on the job, essentially, the first two weeks as a regular-season manager, is just really impressive. It just shows he's fearless. He's alert, observant and has great emotional intelligence." -- Epstein, on Ross' impact on the Cubs