Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant make All-Star returns to San Diego

Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant make All-Star returns to San Diego

Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant both spent time in San Diego, with varying degrees of success.

Now the two Cubs stars are back in America's Finest City as starters in the All-Star Game.

It was just three years ago that Bryant was tearing up the college ranks as a slugger at the University of San Diego.

Bryant's 31 home runs with San Diego during the 2013 season led to the Cubs spending the No. 2 overall pick in that year's draft on him. And two years after that, Bryant made his debut on the North Side, later named to his first All-Star team and earning National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Now he's back as the starting NL third baseman in San Diego's All-Star Game, and he's happy to return to his old stomping grounds.

"I love coming back here, it's so much fun," Bryant said Monday in San Diego. "It's good to be back. I always go through campus again and go to all my favorite dinner spots.

"It kind of rewinds time a little bit, makes you feel like home. This place is definitely a special place to me."

Rizzo's time in San Diego wasn't anywhere near as productive, but he believes it's allowed him to have a similar amount of success.

Drafted by the Red Sox and then traded to the Padres, Rizzo made his big league debut with San Diego during the 2011 season.

Rizzo posted an ugly .141/.281/.242 slash line with just one homer and nine RBIs in 128 at-bats, getting sent down after his initial two-month call-up in June and July and then brought back up in September.

The Cubs dealt for him in the ensuing offseason, and he's been an All Star in three straight seasons, this year the leading vote-getter in all of baseball.

So while no one wants to debut in the fashion Rizzo did with the Padres, he considers it a good thing, as it led to him coming to Chicago.

"(I wonder) what it would have been like if I was good when I played here. I'm happy that I wasn't," Rizzo joked Monday. "I'm in a really good situation in Chicago. It's basically like my home now, and I feel like the city's embraced me. I've embraced the city. Everything happens for a reason, and it's great.

"I always want to play well. Looking back, I'm not happy that I didn't, but I'm happy with where I'm at now."

Yu Darvish emotional after Cubs lose another tough one: 'I'm so frustrated'

Yu Darvish emotional after Cubs lose another tough one: 'I'm so frustrated'

With their postseason hopes fading by the day and the Cubs needing him most, Yu Darvish delivered on Sunday.

And yet, the game ended in a far-too familiar way for the Cubs: with a 3-2 loss, the Cubs’ fifth-straight one-run defeat — and third since Thursday when they were tied or leading in the ninth inning or later.

“If you just play back the tape, it’s almost unbelievable that it turned out this way,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Also, the games against Cincinnati. For the last six, this is really wash and repeat. Of course it’s frustrating."

Darvish was extremely emotional postgame, as evidenced by a mud stain spread across his locker resulting from an anger-laced throw of his cleat. He pitched well — 8 1/3 innings, three earned runs, 12 strikeouts and no walks — only running into trouble in the ninth.

“I’m so frustrated, you can see it, right?” he said, looking back at his locker. “We have to win, especially today, but we lost.”

The 33-year-old right-hander was rolling heading into the ninth, which started off with pinch-hit triple by Jose Martinez that hit off Albert Almora Jr.’s glove, despite a valiant diving effort.

“It sucks that we couldn’t win that game,” Almora said. “I really wanted to make that play there. Can’t catch them all, but I tried.”

For what it’s worth, Craig Kimbrel didn’t pitch Sunday because he was unavailable, though Maddon said he would’ve stuck with Darvish even if his closer was available.

"I was happy at that point, but right now everything just….There’s no words right now," Darvish said.

That’s neither here nor there, though. What matters is that the Cubs lost another game that they seemed to have in their grasp, only to see it slip away late. They're now eliminated from NL Central contention, and their elimination number in the Wild Card race is three.

Even Maddon struggled to explain the series, one where the Cubs played quite well but only saw their playoff hopes take a big hit.

“It’s really difficult,” he said. “You look at it, how did that all happen? How did we lose all those four games? They were just one runner better than us every night and they were really evenly matched. That’s all I will concede.”

Although Darvish admitted he feels responsible for Sunday’s loss, Maddon spoke highly of the right-hander, even comparing how he's pitched to what Jake Arrieta did during his tenure with the Cubs. 

“I saw Jake pitch really well and win a Cy Young, but this is equivalent of all of that,” he said. “The stuff, command of his stuff. [Darvish] absolutely deserved a better fate.”

Whether you think that Maddon was being too hyperbolic there or not, there’s no doubting that Darvish looked excellent for majority of his outing on Sunday. Baseball is a game of inches, something the Cubs experienced firsthand this weekend.

“They got us. They got us,” Maddon said. “Give them credit for that, but we did not leave anything on the field, man.”

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Swept by the Cardinals (and playoff dreams dashed)

USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: Swept by the Cardinals (and playoff dreams dashed)

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Tony Andracki and Kelly Crull discuss the Cardinals sweep, Yu Darvish taking the loss so hard, and what to look for over the final six games of the year.

01:00 - Reaction to being swept by the Cards

03:30 - Darvish taking the loss really hard

05:30 - This is the Yu Darvish Cubs fans thought they were getting when he signed with the Cubs

07:00 - Almora's miscue in the 9th inning of the loss

08:00 - It feels like the end of an era

12:00 - Is this the end of an era for the Cubs?

16:00 - Surprised Rizzo was available on the field for the entire Cardinals series?

20:00 - There is no one thing you can look to that didn't work this season

22:00 - What do you want to see over the final six games?

25:00 - Seeing a cornerstone being helped off the field for a second Sunday in a row

29:00 - How much will we see the injured guys on the field?

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Cubs Talk Podcast