If Kris Bryant is still playing fantasy baseball, he might want to sit pitchers the night he faces them.
The Cubs slugger formed another "notch on his belt" with his first multi-homer game in the big leagues, including a two-run shot off Clayton Kershaw as the Cubs took down the reigning Cy Young winner with a 4-2 victory Monday night in front of 35,147 fans at Wrigley Field.
"It's kind of surreal," Bryant said. "I'm facing guys that were on my fantasy baseball team growing up."
Bryant's home run was also the first off a Kershaw curveball this season. The rookie waited back and went with the two-strike offering for his first career opposite-field blast.
"I was hoping I'd get a curveball, especially with the wind blowing out," Bryant said. "I just tried to put it in the air. I got one, and I did what I was supposed to do.
"(Kershaw is) the best pitcher in the game. I just got a good pitch to hit."
Kershaw came out of the game after seven innings, and he might have been rattled a bit after a wacky occurrence in the sixth inning. The lights at Wrigley Field went out momentarily, and even when they came back on, several bulbs were out in some lighting docks.
That prompted Cubs manager Joe Maddon to come out of the dugout, and the game was delayed for almost 15 minutes as Maddon stated his case to the umpiring crew.
The game resumed even though all the lights had not come back on yet. But not before Maddon and the Cubs filed an official complaint.
"I didn't like the idea that we had to play against a guy that's really, really, really, really, really, really, really good," Maddon said. "You gotta see spin, you've gotta be able to read everything. I did not like the fact that we had to go out and play without all the lights on.
"Just be a little bit more patient and wait for the lights — that was my argument. I just thought it was inappropriate and I made my case.
"Originally, they said I could not protest, then we kept banging on it, because you can't protest a judgment call. In my opinion, that's not a judgment call. That's not in the book that the umpire can decide whether the lights are good enough or not. That was my contention."
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Kershaw exchanged a few calm words with Maddon at the beginning of the delay, and as the down time wore on, the Dodgers ace started to stalk around the grass between the pitcher's mound and home plate.
He then warmed back up, only to be shut down again when Maddon came back out to file a protest. That led Kershaw into a little argument with the umpires.
"I have no idea (what Kershaw was arguing about)," Maddon said. "Probably that he had to stand out there for at least 15 minutes. I would have argued, too."
Maddon's filibuster worked, as Kershaw surrendered a home run to Matt Szczur — who was just called back up Monday — that gave the Cubs what proved to be a vital insurance run.
Bryant added a solo shot in the eighth inning, a rocket to the left-field seats off Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore. The Cubs put a live shot of Bryant in the dugout on the video board in left field, and the fans got on their feet for a curtain call.
"That's another first, too," Bryant said. "That was pretty cool to get that reception."
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Bryant has always seemed to keep his even-keeled demeanor no matter what happens. Shrugging his shoulders and showing off his "aw shucks" smile is as much as he'd let himself outwardly celebrate his big night.
"I love the way he approaches the day, man," Maddon said. "You see he hits the home run, they force him to go out for the curtain call, but he comes back in, gives you a nice high five like, 'I'm gonna do this again.' I really like the way he handles all that."
Bryant had actually been struggling coming into the game, in the middle of an 0-for-14 stretch that saw him go hitless during the three-game series in Minnesota. Before Monday, he had hit just one home run in the last 22 games, and that longball came off a position player in the 17-0 blowout in Cleveland on Wednesday.
"It's a game of peaks and valleys, and I was on a valley," Bryant said. "I just went into the game telling myself I'm due and I'm due for a big game. And I got it.
"You just always gotta think that way in this game. It's crazy. It's so easy to get down on yourself. But those are the types of runs that make you the type of player you're going to be. I'm glad I came out of it tonight."
Maddon said guys like Bryant "always get clumpy with homers," and the Cubs manager hopes the rookie is on another one of those hot stretches, like when Bryant hit seven homers in 17 games in May.
"I have so much faith in him," Maddon said. "When a guy that good goes through a drought like that, it takes one. The home run he hit in Cleveland was against a position player, but I still was good with that. Because he felt it again, he felt the swing path and hit the ball to dead center field.
"He's going to continue to ascend. There's no doubt in my mind."