I guess we can’t have nice things.
With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Daniel Descalso reached second on a fielding error, which made the Pirates intentionally walk Jason Heyward to bring Jon Lester to the plate. The move back-fired for the Pirates, as Lester launched an RBI-double into the gap and opened the floodgates to 6 two-out runs.
Here’s a look at that, in case you missed it:
The first run batted in at Wrigley in 2019 comes off the bat of BIG JON LESTER! pic.twitter.com/qibnfvQ2EZ
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) April 8, 2019
But in that process, Lester was forced to not only hustle into a second base (with a slide as the throw came in), but also around the bags for a slide into home. Unfortunately, that may have led to an artificially early outing for him.
After the bottom half of the second finally came to an end, Jon Lester went back to work in the top of the third, but missed his spot a couple times in a row, causing Joe Maddon to meet with him on the mound. After talking for a few minutes, Lester continued the inning, but made it just one batter more, before Joe Maddon came back out to remove him from the game.
Lester didn’t appear to be in much physical pain, but Maddon was clearly seeing something he didn’t like and it wasn’t difficult to see it on Lester’s face. If I recall correctly, Lester dealt with some back issues late last season, as well, so you have to wonder (and hope) that this was a combination of something small popping up and an abundance of caution type situation. With a six run lead and an off-day tomorrow, that wouldn’t be out of the question. Hopefully, the bullpen is up to the task.
I don’t have to tell you how much Lester means to this team, both in general and in this particular stretch wherein he’s basically been the only reliable pitcher. Let’s just hope everything is all right and go from there (Brad Brach came into finish the inning cleanly – so far, so good).
I’m sure we’ll learn more information soon, so stay tuned and we’ll update this post as necessary.
UPDATE: Just as I click publish, the Cubs report that it’s left hamstring tightness for Lester:
Jon Lester exited today's game due to left hamstring tightness. pic.twitter.com/B8mqm3voI8
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 8, 2019
Given how much running he had to do around the bases (and, let’s face it: his age and position), it’s not particularly surprising to see this come out as the injury. Until we know the severity of the tightness, it’ll be impossible to guess how long he may be out. Obviously, that left leg is particularly important, because it’s the leg he uses to push off the mound. But again, let’s just wait to see what the Cubs say.
UPDATE II: Gordon Wittenmyer just brought something to my attention, which I’ll just leave here without comment until we know more about Lester:
Lester would be scheduled to pitch Sunday.
Mike Montgomery is on the IL until at least Monday.
If Lester can't go …
Say hello to the Angels, Mr. Chatwood https://t.co/MbvXGpCyyB
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) April 8, 2019