Kris Bryant
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Video: Kris Bryant ties Ernie Banks’ home run record

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The Cubs bulldozed their way to a couple of home run records on Saturday, dominating the Pirates 14-1 to edge closer to the division lead. Powering that 14-run spread: two singles, a double, and four home runs, the latter of which bumped the team’s total to a single-season, franchise-record 237 in 2019.

Ben Zobrist took care of the first home run, teeing off against Pittsburgh rookie James Marvel in the second inning with a solo shot, his first of the year. Kris Bryant followed with a two-run blast in the fourth, while Nico Hoerner’s record-breaking three-run homer in the sixth and Victor Caratini‘s solo bomb in the seventh were the cherries on top of a decisive win.

For Bryant, Saturday’s home run felt a little more special than usual. He picked up a 1-1 fastball from Marvel and returned it to left field for his 29th homer of the season, bringing him to a career total of 136. It’s an impressive pace for the three-time All-Star; as he nears the conclusion of his fifth season in the majors, he’s on the verge of surpassing the franchise record set by Cubs Hall of Fame infielder Ernie Banks, who also belted 136 homers through his first five seasons with the club.

While the Cubs have been on an unbelievable tear this month — leading all NL teams with 68 runs scored in the first two weeks of September — it would still take some serious effort for them to lay claim to the home run title by season’s end. They currently rank second in the National League and seventh overall with 237 home runs, well below the NL-leading Dodgers (261) and league-leading Yankees (285).

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.