CHICAGO -- The home runs are fun, but Cubs rookie Kris Bryant may have made a bigger impact on Tuesday night's 6-1 win over the Mets with his infield single in the third inning.
There were two outs when Bryant beat third baseman Daniel Murphy's throw. Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, who was making his Major League debut, then walked the next two batters to load the bases and finally retired Jorge Soler on a fly ball. Syndergaard needed 18 more pitches after Bryant's hit to get through the inning.
"Any time you can kind of startle a team and they don't expect [something], it kind of gets them off their rhythm," Bryant said. "I try to do that, and try to do everything I can to shake up the rhythm of the pitcher. He was doing pretty well up to that point and making us look bad up there."
Syndergaard kept the Cubs scoreless until the sixth, when Starlin Castro hit an RBI double and Chris Coghlan smacked a two-run homer. Bryant wasn't done. He also tripled in the fifth, hit his third home run in the eighth and drew praise from his manager.
"He's a baseball player, man," Joe Maddon said. "That's the thing right there -- that's what you want, you want baseball players, a guy who plays the whole game and understands the concepts of offense and defense, and offense includes baserunning. Why is it so difficult to respect 90 feet?"
That wasn't all Bryant did. In the Mets' fourth, he handled a throw from Coghlan to get Curtis Granderson, who was trying to advance to third on Murphy's single.
"The home runs are beautiful, but how about the pick at third base? That was a great play," Maddon said. "This is the second time he's beat out a routine ground ball in a week. He's hit balls very far. But he's a baseball player. Everybody's talking about this guy as if he's just a power hitter, but he's a baseball player and a very good one."
Bryant was aware he was a double shy of hitting for the cycle in just his 24th big league game.
"Hopefully, at one point in my career, I'll get that," he said.
The triple was encouraging because it was to right field; his home runs have been to left.
"The home runs are cool but, I don't know, I think the triple was what I try to do," Bryant said. "That's the swing that I want, and I haven't been able to do that a lot up here. Getting that swing and working right field, I can take off from there."
Bryant has homered in back-to-back games and three of his last four. This was his seventh multihit game and second three-hit game. He's just getting started.
"He's just a special talent and it's fun to watch him play every day," Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said. "I just look forward to watching him grow."