Heath Bell allows homer in fifth consecutive appearance

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Diamondbacks closer Heath Bell surrendered a two-run home run to Jay Bruce in the top of the ninth inning that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Bell has allowed a homerun:

  • June 10 @ Dodgers: Juan Uribe walk-off solo home run
  • June 12 @ Dodgers: Ramon Hernandez solo home run (note: Hernandez was designated for assignment today)
  • June 17 vs. Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton go-ahead solo home run
  • June 19 vs. Marlins: Justin Ruggiano go-ahead three-run home run
  • June 22 vs. Reds: Jay Bruce go-ahead two-run home run

Bell’s ERA is now 5.02, a year after posting a 5.09 ERA in 63.2 innings. In fairness, aside from the home runs, his defense-independent stats (strikeouts and walks) are back at the same level when he was a dominant closer with the Padres. However, his fastball velocity is on a three-year decline and he no longer benefits from a pitcher-friendly home ballpark.

You have to wonder how much longer the Diamondbacks, nursing a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, will continue trotting Bell out in save situations.

The Diamondbacks bailed out Bell in the bottom of the ninth, however, as Jason Kubel helped walk off with a two-run, bases-loaded single to center against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

MRI reveals rib inflammation for Anthony Rizzo

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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed rib inflammation on his left side, Maddie Lee of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Rizzo has been dealing with back soreness for the last week and has missed several intrasquad games as a result.

Rizzo is unsure if he can avoid opening the regular season on the injured list. He said, “I’ll do everything I can to stay off of it, obviously. … Every game’s important. So, we’ve got to get off to a good start and hopefully I’m out there with the guys. I plan on it, but you can’t control it and you’ve got to be smart.”

Rizzo, who turns 31 years old next month, is coming off of another highly productive season in which he hit .293/.405/.520 with 27 home runs, 94 RBI, and 89 runs scored over 613 plate appearances. In the event he needs to open the season on the IL, Victor Caratini figures to get the first crack at handling first base.

The Cubs missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014, finishing in third place with a 84-78 record. Rizzo, no doubt, will play a big role if the Cubs are to find themselves back in the postseason.