Kris Bryant didn't want to wait until after the game to see some fireworks, so he created some of his own.
The Cubs rookie slugger smashed a pair of homers in his first two at-bats — including a grand slam the second time up — and drove in six runs as the Cubs cruised to a 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins in front of 37,898 fans on the Fourth of July at Wrigley Field.
"It was him. That was our offense today," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Without that, this game's entirely different. It was nice to get him going tonight."
Bryant became the first Cubs rookie to hit two grand slams in a season since Billy Williams in 1961. He also was the first Cub to hit a grand slam on July 4 since Wildfire Schulte did it in 1911.
The Cubs offense had been struggling, with only 17 runs in the last 10 games before Saturday, when seven of the first 12 batters came around to score. But after Bryant's grand slam, Marlins pitchers set down 19 of 20 hitters, with the only blemish being Anthony Rizzo's hit-by-pitch in the fifth inning.
"Anytime you get that many runs that early, not that you can take your foot off the gas pedal, but kinda just cruise control," Bryant said. "It's always fun to score early."
The two blasts were Bryant's first since June 22, and he has only five since May 26. But he's still on pace for 25 homers and 100 RBIs despite the fact he started the season in the minor leagues.
The Cubs are still waiting for Bryant to get red-hot and have a stretch like he did in spring training this year, when he clubbed nine homers in 14 games.
"We talk about the word 'grind' a lot. He definitely is grinding it out," Maddon said. "He's gone through some tough stretches in at-bats. He's made a lot of adjustments on the major-league level, and that's not easy to do. I'm really impressed.
"For a first-year guy to be pitched at the way he is really speaks a lot about the way the other team thinks about him. He's gonna get, like, spring training hot again during the season at some point.
"It's just an experience thing. Addison (Russell)'s gonna do the same thing. They're gaining experience, they're handling the day properly and it's really impressive to watch."
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Bryant's fireworks helped former White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard pick up a win in his Cubs debut. Richard had a nice outing, allowing only two runs on eight hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings while striking out four. It was the first big league action for Richard since 2013 with the San Diego Padres.
After the game, the 31-year-old lefty couldn't help but feel content.
"It was a great deal of fun, and my family got to be here," Richard said. "You can't beat that. ... This game's a lot of fun. I'm very fortunate right now to be getting this opportunity here. It's very tough for me not to smile sometimes."
The Cubs will not need a fifth starter until after the All-Star Break, and Tsuyoshi Wada might be back by then from his shoulder injury, so Richard's future is up in the air. But he left a solid first impression with Maddon and the Cubs.
"I thought Clayton was outstanding," Maddon said. "Really put the ball on the ground; had a really good sinker working tonight. Threw strikes, was unflappable, had a really good way about him. Demeanor, everything was outstanding.
"It's a great first time out for him. We'll see how it's gonna play out for the rest of the stay here, but for right now, he really picked us up tonight."