Kris Bryant is one of the main reasons why the Chicago Cubs are in the midst of a turnaround.
On Saturday night, the Marlins saw why.
Bryant, the rookie phenom third baseman, hit two homers, including a grand slam against Jarred Cosart, as the Cubs rolled to a 7-2 victory in front of a crowd of 37,898 celebrating Independence Day at Wrigley Field.
It was also a disappointing outing for Cosart, whose battles with vertigo this season caused him to miss 38 games.
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He was in trouble from the beginning in his first start since May 13, and after the game it was announced he would be sent to Triple A New Orleans.
“I guess this was my chance and, obviously, I guess I didn’t pitch well,” Cosart said next to a packed bag. “I’ll go down there and work on it.”
One out after Chicago shortstop Dexter Fowler doubled to lead off the game, Bryant hit the first of his two homers by crushing a Cosart offering deep into the Chicago night.
How hard was it hit?
Left fielder Christian Yelich did not even flinch as he watched the ball sail over his head.
In the second inning, Cosart lost his control as he allowed an infield hit sandwiched around by three walks, including one that forced in a run. After he struck out first baseman Anthony Rizzo with the bases loaded to get the second out of the inning, Bryant strode to the plate.
After Cosart fell behind 3-1 in the count, Bryant delivered his second grand slam of his short career to left field, hitting the first one for the Cubs on July 4 since 1911.
“He’s a great hitter. You can’t get behind,” Cosart added. “He has a lot of hits this year when he is ahead in the count. That is what the good hitters do. They know you have to come to them as a pitcher, and he makes you pay for mistakes.”
After Bryant’s slam, Marlins manager Dan Jennings pulled Cosart, who lasted only 44 pitches while giving up seven runs. That tied the most he has ever allowed, the other time coming on April 18, 2014, when he was with Houston.
The bullpen, led by David Phelps, who pitched 31/3 innings of scoreless relief, kept the Cubs off the scoreboard for the rest of the game. However, the Marlins’ bats could never get a key hit against Cubs lefty Clayton Richard, who was acquired Friday from Pittsburgh.
The Marlins had 10 hits but only went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, which frustrated Jennings.
“That is not going to let you touch the plate. You have to do it more than they do,” Jennings said.
The Marlins’ best opportunity to climb back in the game occurred in the third when after a Bryant error that allowed second baseman Dee Gordon to score, the Marlins had the bases loaded themselves with one out. But catcher J.T. Realmuto struck out and third baseman Miguel Rojas hit into a force play to end the threat.
In the seventh, Adeiny Hechavarria drove in Gordon with a double to end Richard’s night, but he wound up surrendering only two runs over 61/3 innings in his Chicago debut.
Jennings added that Cosart will go down to the minors, and first baseman Michael Morse, who went on the disabled list on May 26, will return Sunday.