Major League Baseball

Bryant ready for ugly reception in St. Louis

mlb9CUBS (31-23) AT CARDINALS (27-28)

Kris Bryant expects to hear loud boos when he and his Chicago Cubs teammates visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night to open a three-game series.

That’s fine with Bryant, who drew an angry response from Cardinals fans when he described St. Louis as “boring” during a playful interview at the Cubs’ fan convention this offseason.

“Of course, it’s going to be not great,” Bryant told reporters this week in Houston before the Cubs traveled north. “I was watching (Manny) Machado get booed by the Yankees (fans). I don’t know. I hope they boo all of us.

“We want the games to be a nice rivalry. Intense. It’s always nice to play there because there’s a ton of people there, a lot of our fans show up. It makes it fun. No hard feelings.”

It’s unlikely that Cardinals fans will feel the same way.

Bryant raised his rivals’ ire when he said no free agents would want to sign with St. Louis because there was little to do in the city. The comments came during an interview with ex-Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who sat behind a desk on a stage that was decorated to resemble the set of a late night comedy show.

As the comments stirred controversy, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina weighed in on social media.

“Players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city,” Molina wrote. “There should be respect and you should play and compete with respect … only stupid players and losers make comments like the ones made by Bryant and Dempster.”

This marks the first road trip to St. Louis this season for the Cubs, who swept the Cardinals in a three-game series at Wrigley Field during the first week of May. The Cubs won 4-0, 6-5 and 13-5 in those contests.

Chicago is coming off a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros but has lost three of four and five of seven. The team had an off day Thursday after Wednesday’s emotional game, which included a scary moment in which Albert Almora Jr. hit a foul ball that struck a young girl. Almora Jr., who is the father of two young boys, was visibly shaken after the incident and wept into his glove as he visited a security guard near where the girl was struck.

The Astros said the girl was taken to a nearby hospital but did not provide additional details on her condition.

St. Louis is coming off a 5-3 win on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Cardinals, who have lost 18 of their past 25 games.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas (4-5, 4.76 ERA) is scheduled to make his 12th start of the season for the Cardinals. He will try to build upon his most recent outing last Friday against the Atlanta Braves in which he allowed three runs in seven innings while striking out a season-high nine without walking a batter.

In six career games (four starts) against the Cubs, Mikolas is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA.

Chicago will counter with right-hander Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.40), who also will make his 12th start. Darvish allowed six runs on 12 hits against Cincinnati in his last outing, but he pitched seven innings for the first time since 2017 in an 8-6 Cubs win.

Darvish is 0-0 with an 11.25 ERA in one career start against St. Louis. He gave up five runs on six hits in four innings against the Cardinals on May 4.

–Field Level Media

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