SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kris Bryant probably won't get another first-pitch fastball from White Sox ace Chris Sale when the Chicago Cubs slugger bats against the left-hander during the City Series in a couple of weeks.
Back in his college town, Bryant showed exactly what he can do with that pitch — even against a crosstown rival who has owned him.
Bryant hit an estimated 410-foot homer on the fourth pitch of the 87th All-Star Game, providing the biggest highlight of a mediocre night for the NL in a 4-2 loss.
"I just wanted to get a hit," Bryant said. "To have my first hit be a home run is special."
The NL lost for the fourth consecutive year, which means the NL Central-leading Cubs won't get home-field advantage if they make the World Series, where they hope to end their 108-year championship drought this fall.
But it wasn't the fault of Bryant, whose first All-Star hit was an appropriate blast by the NL's 24-year-old leader in homers.
Bryant got a warm homecoming in San Diego, where the Las Vegas native spent three years slugging for the University of San Diego Toreros before the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft.
"Being here in front of what's my second home — I know a lot of people here — it really felt special," Bryant said. "This will be a couple of days that I'll remember for a long time."
Homering against Sale was particularly huge for Bryant, who had been 0 for 6 against the White Sox's star, striking out every single time.
"I guess this one doesn't count toward career statistics," Bryant said with a grin. "I'm still 0 for 6 with six strikeouts against Chris Sale. He's one of the toughest pitchers I've seen. He's one of those guys you have to attack, because he has strikeout stuff."
Bryant became the eighth Cubs player to homer in the All-Star Game, and the youngest since Augie Galan in 1936. He's only the second player from a Chicago team to homer against a pitcher from the other Chicago team, joining Magglio Ordonez against the Cubs' Jon Lieber in 2001.
"I like playing here," Bryant said of Petco Park. "It's one of my favorite places to play. I see the ball really well here. Maybe it's all the sun in San Diego."
Bryant added some more color to the All-Star Game in a more literal fashion as well: He changed his cleats three times in four innings, showing off a different shade of shoe each time. He did it for Adidas, which sold each eye-catching shoe online while Bryant was wearing them.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo also had a hit for the Cubs, who sent seven players to the midsummer classic. Bryant and Rizzo are on the vanguard of the next generation of NL stars, a fact not lost on their teammates.
"You're going to be looking at one of the best hitters in the game," Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist said of Bryant. "I mean, he already is. But the consistency is what you have to see over time to become a legend like Big Papi. A guy like K.B., Rizz, they're just beginning that. They've got a lot of time to be consistent to get to that level, but they're playing at that level right now. Seeing their mindsets, seeing the way they handle the stage, it makes me think, 'How could they not?'"