Is Kris Bryant ready to rejoin the Cubs?
Bryant, who batted second and played DH Tuesday in his second rehab start with the Tennessee Smokies, exited the game after going 0-2 with a strikeout.
Bryant’s exit appeared to be planned and not due to injury; no immediate decision was made regarding a possible trip to San Francisco to rejoin the parent club. The Cubs have one more series before the All Star break—at San Diego this weekend.
Bryant, who landed on the disabled list retroactive to June 23 with left shoulder inflammation, went 2-6 in two games with the Smokies, with a home run and three RBI.
Adding Bryant to the lineup would obviously help the Cubs reignite their offense. The Cubs have won nine of their last 12 games; however, the most recent game resulted in an extra innings loss (2-1) in the series opener against the Giants Monday night.
During Saturday night's Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts brought out the 2016 World Series trophy, delighting all Cubs fans in attendance.
The concert was made even more special by Vedder having the highlight of David Bote's pinch-hit grand slam playing in the background during his performance of "Rebel Rebel".
Anytime Pearl Jam is at Wrigley Field, it's a good time, but it is safe to say that Cubs fans who double as Pearl Jam fans will never forget the special night.
Cole Hamels' dominant start to his Cubs career continued on Friday in stellar fashion, and with some considerable help from his infield.
The 34-year-old veteran not only pitched seven innings of five-hit ball without allowing a run, but induced five ground ball double plays. The Cubs finished with a staggering seven double plays in a 1-0 win at the Pirates on Friday.
The last time the Cubs turned five double plays was in 1985.
All five hits Hamels gave up were groundball singles. The 16 groundballs induced is the most for a Cubs pitcher this year.
After Hamels exited after seven innings, the Cubs got double plays in the eighth, on a line drive double play with Jorge De La Rosa on the mound, and ninth, on a groundball induced by Jesse Chavez to end the game.
Hamels was initially brought in to provide depth to a struggling rotation and ease the pain of Yu Darvish being unavailable. But Hamels has now started an honest debate over who should be the Cubs' starter in Game 1 of the postseason. He has been otherworldly since joining the Cubs, with an 0.72 ERA, three wins and one no-decision (the Cubs won and he had nine strikeouts).
The 1-0 win over the Pirates gives the Cubs more breathing room in the NL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, pushing the Cubs lead to 4.5 games in the division.
And the Hamels hot-streak comes at an excellent time for the North Siders, who took in Jon Lester's gem of an outing on Thursday, where he went six innings with no earned runs and eight strikeouts in a win against the Pirates. The Cubs starting pitching seems to be turning the corner, and with three straight series against sub-.500 teams following their series in Pittsburgh, this could be the beginning of a great run of outings that carries the Cubs confidently into the postseason.