The debut of Kris Bryant did not exactly go as planned for the Chicago Cubs.
He may fare better Saturday with one day of big league experience under his belt, although strikeout pitcher Tyson Ross and the San Diego Padres don’t figure to do the touted prospect any favors in the second of a three-game series.
Bryant made his much anticipated debut Friday in front of an enlivened Wrigley Field, but the power-hitting third baseman struck out three times against James Shields before grounding out in his final at-bat.
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Wil Myers hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning as San Diego (7-4) won 5-4 for its sixth victory in seven games.
"You’ve got to embrace the times you’re not doing well and learn from it," Bryant said. "… Sure, I could have done a little better."
Next up for Bryant will be Ross (1-0, 3.75 ERA), who finished 15th in the majors last season with 8.97 strikeouts per nine innings. The right-hander had eight strikeouts in six innings of a 6-4 win over San Francisco on Sunday, and he limited the Cubs (5-4) to one run through six while striking out a career-high 11 in a 13-3 victory July 24 at Wrigley.
The Cubs will turn to Kyle Hendricks, who turned heads with a 2.46 ERA in 13 starts last season but sputtered out of the gate in 2015, allowing five runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings Sunday at Colorado.
"I had nothing out there, and was just trying to battle and keep them in it," Hendricks told MLB’s official website after the Cubs scored three times in the ninth to win 6-5. "The feel just wasn’t there. I don’t know what it was. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you feel, you have to make pitches, and I didn’t make pitches. First one’s out of the way."
The right-hander pitched seven innings and beat visiting San Diego 6-0 on July 22 in the second start of his career.
That roster, however, greatly differs from this year’s new-look Padres, whose active offseason continues to pay dividends – most notably in the outfield. Prior to Myers’ home run Friday, Justin Upton homered in victories over Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Matt Kemp is hitting .417 in the last six games.
"These guys are into it, which is great," manager Bud Black said. "New team, new teammates, new organization. They’re embracing it, really having a lot of fun and playing really well."
The Cubs have dropped three straight and 12 of 18 meetings with San Diego since a three-game home sweep May 28-30, 2012.
Anthony Rizzo continued his strong play against the Padres, who traded the first baseman to Chicago in 2012. He went 1 for 2 with an RBI double and two walks Friday, and is batting .417 with a 1.588 OPS in the last four matchups.
Starlin Castro has been less impressive against San Diego, batting .239 in 35 games – his second-lowest average versus any NL team.