Although he cruised quickly through the first inning, a combination of balls in the air, a strong wind, and terrible BABIP luck doomed Jon Lester in the second inning.
Hopefully it’s not more than that.
Because after throwing 40 pitches in the frame and failing to record three outs, Lester ultimately left with Joe Maddon and the team’s trainer. A couple inherited runners scored on Mike Montgomery after that, yielding a total of nine runs charged to Lester, with seven earned.
It’s not clear if Lester is hurt at this point, or if they were simply checking to see if he was, and then decided it was time to call it a day. We’ll update when we know more. (SEE UPDATE BELOW)
As for the outing, assuming he’s healthy, I just take nothing away from it. Almost every hit in the inning – including the Joey Votto moonshot, wind-blown homer – was not well struck. Yeah, you’re gonna get burned sometimes if you give up that many balls in play, but these were dinks and dunks and grounders that found grass. It certainly didn’t help that Lester’s outfield defense on a windy day consisted of Kyle Schwarber, Jon Jay, and Ben Zobrist. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen again any time soon.
UPDATE: Here’s the official word on Lester:
Jon Lester is being evaluated after experiencing left lat tightness.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 17, 2017
Please be minor, please be minor, please be minor. Your best case scenario here is that Lester started to feel not so good during the very long, grinding inning, and is not necessarily hurt, but simply couldn’t keep going that inning. If that’s the case, he might be OK for his next start. We’ll see.