This was the Jon Lester we have all been waiting for; the $155 million dollar man, the bona fide ace, the guy who puts a team on his back and carries them to victory. Sure, he had some help finally as Dexter Fowler provided some early run support with a lead-off home run and Anthony Rizzo followed suit in the third with a two-run shot of his own to stake Lester to a 3-0 lead. That would prove to be enough as Lester allowed only two runs on five hits in eight strong innings of work to beat the Rockies 3 – 2 on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Oh, and did I mention 14 strikeouts? 14 !?!?!
Lester became the first Cub to strike out at least 14 batters since Mark Prior in 2004, and the first Cubs left-hander to do so in over a century. It was a sight to behold. Of course, it would have been just a foot note without that run support as Anthony Rizzo picked a great time to hit his first home run since July 7 that stayed just fair.
“It was nice to keep that one fair, for sure,” Rizzo said. “It turned out big for us.”
Big indeed as the Cubs were able to hold on to take the series 2 to 1, after falling 7 – 2 the evening before and leaving Cubs fans rolling their eyes at all the lost opportunities to make up ground in the wild card and division against sub-.500 teams. A series win will have to do after a putrid series against the Phillies; they completed the six game homestand with a 2-4 record, not exactly what you want to see from a team making a playoff run with just over two months left in the season.
The Cubs will get another stab at it as the travel to Milwaukee for a four game series vs. the 44- 58 Brewers, an excellent chance to get rolling and on the eve of the trade deadline, there is still hope that reinforcements may be on the way. With a flurry of deals the last 48 hours, most of the big name pitchers such as David Price and Cole Hamels have already been traded, and that’s fine as Cubs couldn’t offer to dismantle their farm systems for just one player, especially a rental. There are still a few interesting candidates out there and most of them play for the San Diego Padres.
The Cubs line up surprisingly well with the Padres as trade partners as San Diego looks to correct their offseason mistakes that didn’t pan out and replenish their farm system, while the Cubs have intriguing prospects and an excess of middle infielders (i.e. Starlin Castro) to offer in exchange for a reliable #4 or #5 pitcher. Ideally, the Cubs will land Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner for the price of a Javy Baez or Starlin Castro and some lower level prospects to round out the deal. Adding Craig Kimbrel as a closer wouldn’t be a bad idea either if the price is right. The waiting will soon be over…
Tonight it’s Jake Arrieta on the bump vs. the Brewers Jimmy Nelson. Game time is 7:10 PM CST.
Let’s Go Cubs!