Bryant’s slam sparks virtual Cubs to series win
When David Ross named Kris Bryant the Cubs leadoff hitter, it was a two-fold thought process. The first being that with his high on-base percentage and ability to draw out an at-bat, he was the perfect candidate to kick off the Cubs offense.
Secondly, it’s the idea of having a big bat when the lineup turns over with runners on base.
Both skills were showcased in Sunday’s simulation of MLB The Show 20, as Bryant worked a long at-bat, then deposited a grand slam to spark the Cubs in their 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. The Cubs improved to 6-3 on the virtual season and went 4-2 in their first homestand of the year.
The grand slam was Bryant’s first home run of the year.
The Cubs had struggled to string together their offense against Diamondbacks starter Alex Young. In the 7th, Steven Souza Jr. doubled to lead off the inning, David Bote walked and two batters later, pinch hitter Jason Heyward reached on an error to load the bases all off reliever Yoán López.
The Diamondbacks changed pitchers, bringing on Junior Guerra, hoping to get a righty-righty matchup on Bryant to induce an inning-ending double play. With Bryant’s early season struggles — .226 batting average — it was feasible to think Guerra could work his way out of the jam. He almost did, too.
Guerra got a full count on Bryant, before smashing a grand slam to left field to give the Cubs the lead for good.
It was a perfect example of the virtual Cubs’ ability to grind out wins. On a day when the offense wasn’t necessarily clicking, they got enough timely hits to produce runs and squeak out the win. The Cubs had 3 extra base hits: Souza Jr.’s double and Bryant’s grand slam in the 7th and a Jon Lester ground-rule double in the 5th.
Lester was strong on the mound, too. He pitched 6 innings of 1-run ball, allowing 6 hits and striking out 4. The only run he allowed was an RBI single to Christian Walker in the 4th.
The Cubs bullpen continued its stellar play in 2020. Alec Mills and Dan Winkler pitched scoreless 7th and 8th innings, while Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th to pick up his third save of the year.
The Cubs hit the road for a trip to Pittsburgh, with the first game of the virtual series beginning Monday at 1 p.m. on our Facebook, @WatchMarquee.
Here’s how the team’s lined up in Sunday’s series finale:
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Javy Báez – SS
Kyle Schwarber – LF
Willson Contreras – C
Steven Souza Jr. – RF
David Bote – 2B
Albert Almora Jr. – CF
Jon Lester – P
Starling Marte – CF
Nick Ahmed – SS
David Peralta – LF
Eduardo Escobar – 3B
Carson Kelly – C
Christian Walker – 1B
Kole Calhoun – RF
Ildemaro Vargas – 2B
Alex Young – P
Catch the full game here: