Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant puts stranglehold on MVP race with torrid week

Kris Bryant continues his strong push for the NL MVP with an 11-RBI week for the Cubs, who own a 12-game lead in the NL Central.

Leading into the All-Star game, the Chicago Cubs had lost nine of their last 11 games. Their heretofore historic season looked to be sputtering. But, even with the Cubs stumbling under the weight of that history, second-year third baseman Kris Bryant kept pushing forward, hitting .333 with four home runs, seven RBIs, eight walks, 12 strikeouts and 12 runs scored in 11 games.

Since the break, Chicago has gone 25-10, including a 5-2 run over this last week, with Bryant leading the Major Leagues in RBIs (11, tied with Nolan Arenado), with just two strikeouts in 32 plate appearances. His .483 batting average was seventh in the Majors over the last week, while his three home runs ranked sixth. His nine runs scored were the second-most in the big leagues, behind Paul Goldschmidt and Alex Gordon (10).

Bryant's 24 total bases were tops in the National League, and fourth overall among big leaguers, while his 1,359 OPS ranked eighth, his .828 slugging percentage ranked ninth and his .531 on-base percentage ranked eighth.

During Tuesday's doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers, Bryant went a pedestrian 2-for-7 with a run and an RBI, as the Cubs swept both ends of the twin bill, part of a makeup from April 27. After an 0-for-2 collar on Wednesday, Bryant went 5-for-5 with four runs scored, with one double, two home runs and five RBIs in the finale against the Brewers.

In the bottom of the third, Bryant put the Cubs on top with a two-run home run off of Zach Davies, and after Milwaukee closed the lead to 5-3 on a three-run homer by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the top of the fourth, Bryant answered in the bottom of the frame with a run-scoring double.

The Brewers pulled close again in the top of the sixth, narrowing the lead to 7-5, but Bryant again answered, slugging a solo home run to center off of Blaine Boyer. An RBI groundout in the top of the eighth by Ramon Flores narrowed the gap to two runs again, but Bryant's RBI single to left in the bottom of the eighth once again put Milwaukee in its place.

After going 3-for-6 in an 11-inning, 7-6 loss in the series opener to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Aug. 19, the Cubs and Bryant rebounded for a 9-2 win over the Rockies the next day, with Bryant breaking a 0-0 tie in the top of the fourth with an RBI single, touching off a four-run inning.

In the fifth, Bryant drove in three more a home run to center to give Chicago all the offense it would need.

On the season, Bryant leads all of baseball in runs scored (99), is fourth in the big leagues with 264 total bases (tops in the National League), fifth in the Majors and second in the NL in home runs (31), 12th in the Majors and sixth in the NL in RBIs (83), is hitting an even .300, is 11th in the Majors with a .392 OBP and owns a .565 slugging percentage that's sixth in baseball. 


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