ST. LOUIS — What is wrong with the Cubs offense? Is Kris Bryant broken? Is it time to start getting concerned about the Cubs' lack of power?
Those questions have been bouncing around Cubdom the last 72 hours, including here in this space.
The Cubs laughed those issues off before Friday's 13-5 win and then went out and smacked the Cardinals to the tune of 13 runs and 14 hits.
After going a month without a homer, Bryant deposited one into the left-centerfield bleachers in the third inning.
It's delicious. pic.twitter.com/w6ChyUA8Lw— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 16, 2018
This came after Bryant received a "spa day" Wednesday in Milwaukee, where he was kept out of the starting lineup and didn't even pinch-hit late in a game the Cubs lost just 1-0. Couple that with Thursday's regularly schedule off-day and the Cubs' top hitter had two full days to recharge.
"Yeah, I always like it when he gives us a day off leading into an off-day," Bryant said. "But, sometimes, it's just a mental break that gets you going and gets you back on the right track. Because this season is so long. Coming to the field every day can get monotonous, so anytime you can get a little break, it's huge."
Bryant's big day at the plate (2 hits, 4 RBI) also proved Jed Hoyer right.
The Cubs GM met with the media about three hours before Bryant's blast, giving the Cubs superstar a big vote of confidence.
"He's sort of the least of our concerns," Hoyer said. "He's so steady. I think when he does go through a slump, we all react because we're not used to it.
"But I think mentally, he's pretty even keel. I'm sure he has his moments of frustration but we have no doubt he'll get back to where he normally is. To me, that's a great thing.
"We know that we're kinda due some pretty big hot streaks from some guys and the offense will trend up as that happens."
That last part came true beyond just Bryant.
Kyle Schwarber hadn't homered since June 1 and only had 4 blasts since April 26 but he followed Bryant's lead and drilled a 465-foot shot into the batter's eye in center field for a three-run shot.
This thing was flat-out murdered:
Ian Happ got the offense going in the second inning with a solo shot. The Cubs managed just 1 homer over the last week of action entering Friday but wound up with 2 in the third inning alone.
The Cubs entered the game without a run scored since Monday and saw only Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist really performing even or above offensive expectations presently.
Bryant and Schwarber were struggling while Javy Baez, Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ had cooled off a bit of late. Addison Russell and Willson Contreras continued to find their way on base over the last couple of weeks but still boast underwhelming power numbers overall.
The Cubs didn't solve all of their offensive woes Friday at Busch Stadium and it's just one game. But 14 hits, 5 walks, 13 runs and 3 homers can do an awful lot to ease the pressure off guys individually and the lineup as a whole.
"I think we just played a pretty complete game offensively tonight," Joe Maddon said. "That's what we're striving to do. I want homers, I want singles, I want moving the runners, I want good bunts, I want playing offense. We did it tonight."
Almost every starter can go to bed Friday night feeling good about their performance. Bryant homered and drove in 4 runs. Happ and Schwarber each homered. Rizzo had 3 hits and a walk. Almora had 3 hits. Russell had 3 hits, a walk and a lineout to right field.
And the best example it was a good night for the Cubs offensively: Baez walked. TWICE. Both unintentional.
"Magnificent," Maddon said. "I was calling for the ball after the first one. After the second ball, that one's going right to Cooperstown."