Cubs News

Cody Bellinger provides the power as Cubs jet past Royals

10 months agoTony Andracki

Fighter jets weren’t the only projectiles flying through the air over Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon.

Cody Bellinger peppered the bleachers with a pair of homers as he continued his torrid second half and lifted the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Royals in front of 39,525 fans at Wrigley Field.

“He’s a really special piece for us in the lineup,” Jeimer Candelario said of Bellinger.

After Nico Hoerner reached on an error in the 1st inning, Bellinger smacked a ball the other way for a 2-run shot to give Cubs starter Justin Steele an early lead.

Then in the 3rd, Bellinger led off the frame with another home run to left field.

He added a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning to finish with 4 RBI on the afternoon.

“Putting the lineup on his back is kinda what he does,” David Ross said. “He’s been in the middle of that order driving in runs, putting the ball in the seats and a sac fly there. It looked like he didn’t feel quite as comfortable that at-bat and finds a way to get that sac fly there with Yan running at third.

“… The Belli story is our offense kinda goes as he goes. He’s just really, really important.”

Both of Bellinger’s home runs came to the opposite field and he actually showed up for early batting practice Saturday to work on that particular part of his game.

“I didn’t like how I felt yesterday,” he said. “Just wanted to come in early, get some extra reps and just feel what I wanted to feel.”

The big game ties Bellinger for the team lead in homers (20) and he paces the club with 63 RBI.

Since the All-Star Break, he has 11 homers and 34 RBI in just 33 games.

“Any time he comes up, whatever the situation is, he’s must-watch,” Steele said. “He’s always putting together great at-bats and just a great, great presence to have in the clubhouse. He’s the heartbeat right now.”

A day like Saturday is a good indicator of how far Bellinger has come since the last couple seasons. After an MVP campaign in 2019 and a solid year during the shortened season of 2020, a shoulder injury hampered his production from 2021-22 (.193 AVG, .611 OPS).

He spent the offseason working on increasing the strength in that shoulder and getting back to moving the way he wants to in the box.

“Yeah, no doubt. The ability to control my at-bat, control my swing,” he said. “There’s a bunch of different combinations. I do feel a difference [compared to the last couple years].”

Steele picked up another quality start — his 16th of the season — as he limited the Royals to 2 runs in 6 innings. He struck out 7 and did not walk a batter, improving his record to 14-3 this year.

Julian Merryweather, Michael Fulmer, Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay (who picked up his 17th save) combined for the final 3 innings to lock down the win.

The Cubs (63-59) go for the series victory Sunday afternoon with Kyle Hendricks on the mound. Coverage begins at Noon with Cubs Live! on Marquee Sports Network.


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