The Rundown: Cubs Swept by Phillies, David Ross Makes 2nd Relief Appearance and Hits 1st Homer, Johnny Cueto Traded to Royals, Schwarber Plays LF

No way around it, this past weekend’s series with the last-place Phillies was tough to watch.

Despite losing after being two outs from winning on Friday, and being no-hit on Saturday, Sunday’s 11-5 loss probably was the worst of them all.

The familiar offensive struggles were present (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan and Starlin Castro had one hit collectively — and it was an infield single), but the game also featured some pretty bad pitching and defense.

Jason Hammel couldn’t make it through the fourth inning, yielding six runs and eight hits. After his previous start, Hammel said he was still experiencing pain in his hamstring. Yesterday’s start did not alleviate any fears I have about his health.

Hammel was forced to leave his final start before the All-Star break because of the injury, but hasn’t missed any starts since. Hopefully he’ll be able to pitch through it and get healthy soon.

In the grand scheme of things, this weekend’s series doesn’t mean the Cubs’ season is over. Things don’t exactly look bright at the moment, and there are definitely some legitimate concerns.

But this is baseball, and stuff like this series with the Phillies happens. I still expect the Cubs to battle for a wild card spot. I don’t know if they’ll win it, but I know they’ll battle until the end.

Some positives

Sunday’s game wasn’t all bad, however.

Dexter Fowler continues to stay hot since the All-Star break, and Addison Russell hit his first home run since June 17. It’s good to see these two players start to heat up a little. Now if Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler could follow suit, that would be great.

With the game out of reach, David Ross came in to pitch the top of the 9th and recorded his second 1-2-3 inning of the season. Then to top it off, he hit his first homer of the year in the bottom half of the inning.

It was a fun moment in an otherwise dreary day.

Cueto traded to Royals

The first big-name starting pitcher has been traded, as Johnny Cueto goes from the Reds to the Royals. In return, the Reds get left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.

Cueto, who will be a free agent after this season, gives the Royals an ace starter they haven’t had since losing James Shields in the offseason. Already with a X-game lead in the AL Central, the Royals are now looking pretty dangerous.

The Cubs have five games remaining with the Reds. Hopefully they will continue to sell off pieces before the deadline.

Finnegan, drafted in the first round last year, made seven playoff appearances for the Royals and looked pretty impressive (but then had a rough outing in game 5 of the World Series).

Other notes

* The Dodgers and Rangers are the favorites to trade for Cole Hamels, according to Jayson Stark. The Cubs are still in contact with the Phillies, but it’s not sounding likely that the Cubs will be able to pull off a deal with them. Sources told Stark that a trade isn’t likely to occur before Tuesday.

* Kyle Schwarber saw his first action in left field yesterday. It was only one inning, but maybe it will be a sign of things to come. Of course, the first batter of the inning hit it right to Schwarber, and he handled it with ease.

* Yoervis Medina had another rough relief appearance yesterday, giving up three runs, six hits and two walks. So far, the trade involving Medina and Welington Castillo hasn’t exactly worked out for the Cubs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Medina is sent back to Iowa to make room for Tuesday’s starting pitcher (Dallas Beeler?).


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