The Rundown: Jason Hammel Leaves Start with Tight Hamstring, Both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo Will Be in the HR Derby, Cubs May Look to Add INF Howie Kendrick in Offseason

The Cubs went 2-2 against the Cardinals in their recently-concluded series. The losses were heartbreaking; the wins produced over-the-top joy.

But, man, last night’s 6-5 loss to St. Louis? That one stings.

The game appeared all but over after the 1st inning, when starting pitcher Jason Hammel was lifted with a tight left hamstring. The Cubs turned to Clayton Richard in an emergency relief role, and he proceeded to give up hits, walks and runs in bunches.

It was 4-0 and looking bleak, and I was about to catch up on some of the shows piling up on my DVR. Michael Wacha, one of the best young pitchers in the league, was on the hill for the Cardinals after all.

But then in the 4th, Anthony Rizzo singled and gave a shout of “Let’s go!” to the dugout. Kris Bryant followed with a triple, and then my DVR’d shows were once again put on hold for the night.

In a game in which the Cubs could have probably laid down and died without anybody really minding, they fought back. This team never quits, and I love that.

Miguel Montero delivered a three-run double to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead in the sixth, and Wrigley Field exploded with delight.

Things obviously didn’t turn out well in the end, with Jhonny Peralta hitting a game-winning two-out homer in the 9th.

It is just one loss, and the Cubs ended up splitting the series. But this one was tough to swallow.

Home Run Derby

The Cubs officially announced yesterday that both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo would be particpating in the Home Run Derby on July 13.

Bryant will be going up against Albert Pujols in the first round, with Rizzo facing Josh Donaldson. A new format is being implemented this year, with the batters getting five minutes to hit as many homers as he can.

Bryant will have his dad pitching to him, and he sounds pretty excited. “It wasn’t really something I thought of, but my dad would always mention it here and there,” he told Paul Sullivan. “He’s always say ‘I know exactly where to throw it to you. You hit a home run every time I throw it here.’ Obviously I’ve done a couple in the past, but I don’t think any of those could compare (to this).”

Should be a pretty neat moment. I don’t typically watch the derby, but I’ll be watching this year for sure. I’m not sure where I fit on the debate of whether the Home Run Derby messes with players’ swings, as Evan wrote about yesterday.

I don’t think participating will ruin Bryant and Rizzo’s swings. I just hope an injury doesn’t pop up (not that I think that’s likely — but still, this is the Cubs’ two best hitters we’re talking about, and an injury could be devastating).

The Home Run Derby will take place at 7 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

Other notes

* According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs may consider pursuing infielder Howie Kendrick, who will be a free agent next offseason. It’s interesting to hear about the Cubs wanting to sign a middle infielder with all of their depth at the position, but we saw them last offseason pull off a trade for infielder Tommy La Stella (which hasn’t worked out at all thus far). Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are no sure things. But if Starlin Castro is traded, it could open up a spot for another infielder, of course.

* Kyle Schwarber homered again for the Iowa Cubs yesterday. It was his third in Triple-A.


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