Jon Lester pitched well, as he so often does, yielding relatively little hard contact, and giving up two runs in five innings of work (5 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts). The rub with Lester’s day, as it so often is, were the fielding and baserunning misadventures. To be fair, the stolen bases that took place while Lester was in the game were as much on David Ross as on Lester (a delayed steal, and a failed attempted pick-off at second base), but the fact that runners can be all the more aggressive on the bases, comfortably, is the broader issue. On the field, Lester threw a comebacker away, which ultimately led to a run. He also yielded, aggressively, to Anthony Rizzo on a bunt that Rizzo threw away. I could totally be wrong, but from where I was watching, it looked like Rizzo had no angle on the throw to first, whereas Lester may have, if he’d fielded the ball.
And, as is so often the case, Lester’s day on the whole was good. The fielding/throwing issues are, even when they rear their head as loudly as they did today, not necessarily a huge problem. It’s just that, well, they keep coming up. I’m still no more or less worried than I’ve ever been.
Some other things …
- Dexter Fowler really set the pace for the Cubs on the day, walking, tripling, and getting hit by a pitch, and scoring twice. Each time he scored, by the way, it was the man behind him, Jason Heyward, doing work to bring him home. It was a nice one-two punch.
- Anthony Rizzo also hit the ball well today, with lots of solid contact (single, deep sac fly, walk). Jorge Soler crushed one to left for a two-run homer, as he does. It was a bullet.
- For all the kvetching about the bullpen the last couple days, it was smooth sailing in this one. Pedro Strop pitched a very quick, clean inning, and Hector Rondon followed with a perfect, two-strikeout inning of his own.
- Clayton Richard pitched one of the later innings, giving up two singles and striking out one. It looks like he’s now back in his usual bullpen role after being slightly stretched out at the start of spring.
- Joe Maddon also seemed to do a little what-if-this-were-a-real-game managing – albeit still with the artificial exits of players in Spring Training – moving around players late in the game for defense (Jason Heyward moved to center field for an inning after Dexter Fowler departed, Javier Baez came in to play shortstop after Addison Russell departed) and using two relievers (Spencer Patton and Manny Parra) for the 9th.
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