#Cubs Lester faces Cardinals and Lackey at Wrigley

Former Red Sox teammates Jon Lester and John Lackey square off Monday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs and Cardinals open a four-game/three-day series. The Cardinals lead the Central and have their best record through 81 games since 1944 when they finished with 105 wins and won a World Series.

Lester and Lackey spent 4 1/2 seasons together in Boston. It’s their first meeting since Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS, when Lackey pitched for the Angels. The Cardinals right-hander has given up three runs over 14 2/3 innings in a pair of starts against the Cubs this season, both of which came at Busch Stadium. Lackey did lose his only career start at Wrigley in his final outing in 2014.

In his last start, Lester gave up five hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out seven and walked one. The lefty has gone eight consecutive starts without a win, matching the longest such streak of his career. He’s 0-4 with a
3.78 ERA since picking up his last win on May 16.

This will be Lester’s first start with Miguel Montero behind the plate instead of David Ross. Ross was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a mild concussion.

The Cubs rotation has a 5.06 ERA against the Cardinals this season compared to a 3.37 mark against all other teams.

— Carrie Muskat

9 Comments

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Hope the Cubs can finish a bit better in this series. They had chances to beat the Cards in St. Louis just couldn’t get it done.

Lester needs to be lights out tonight! Montero is catching for him. Going to be a tough series.

Aloha Tom&Cubs2317- Yes, This is such a crucial series sense they were swept in the last one. In some ways, I think it is a good thing that Ross went on the dl, I wish him only the best but because of his injury it will force Lester to be focused and make adjustments which can only help him and the team. This Cardinals team is explosive, they are very good at the RISP stat, something that the Cubbies are hurting big time at. I am also sure that Maddon is saying over and over again to the young hitters to take pitches be patient, do not get their pitchers out of jams for them. So, I hope Lester pitches like Richard, Arrieta and Hendricks before him, the defense is stays solid and the hitting comes around. A lot to ask but they need to answer the call. Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha Tom- forgive me (disclaimer), I am as you know a pretty optimistic person and looking always for the good. I had to turn the game off tonight (maybe I should have just kept the audio portion as I have for years and not get the TV side of it!) in the 7th. My wife had to quiet me down, so you know the frustration was brewing. I have been hard on Lester in the past but tonight he did a spectacular job and deserves a win but that will not happen and they might lose the game. The Cubs had numerous opportunities to get something going but they just do not understand, yet, the concept of small ball. Well, I thought things were changing in the 6th with no outs and two on, Rizzo on third. Montero comes up and should as a veteran approach this as a sac-fly, shorten up on the bat and stay out of a double-play situation. Instead he strikes out and looks bad. Next up, Castro. Castro has hit into many double plays. I was so surprised that Maddon did not tell Bryant to take off. You could say, well k.g. Molina is behind the plate, sure but it was wet-raining and this team has not been scoring runs, stay out of the double play. And wouldn’t you know, Castro hit into a dp. I know the announcers were trying to put a “good-spin” on it that he hit the ball hard and pulled to towards left and Wong made a great play, yes he did. But Castro should have approached the later part of his ab as “two-strike” style, shorten up get a fly ball and stay out of the dp. I also think Maddon should have started Bryant running. Move to the 7th: Lester is pitching well but his defense lets him down big time, Bryant twice. I know he is young but in the later innings you have to protect the line and I think he could have gotten to Peralta’s ball. Then he makes a bad throw to second, which Addison misses. Bryant should have gone to first and gotten the sure out. I just said to my wife that there is a rain-delay and they should call it and give it to the Cardinals, I am just human and will get past this feeling of discouragement. This team is not on the level yet to compete against a Cardinals or Pirates. I even reminded myself of the Giants 08/09 seasons leading into 2010. It takes time. I know there will come that amazing day, when it clicks for this team and it will be awesome. Anyhow, Lester pitched a tremendous game tonight. Take care now. Mahalo.

I understand your frustration, k.g. Trust me. What I really want to say is `unprintable.` You make some good points. I`m going to `invoke` a word you`ve utilized in the past, `number.` The Cards have our `number.` We can`t seem to defeat them. We will not do so if we score zero runs; that`s a given. Recall Anthony `guaranteeing` in January that the Cubs would win the division in 2015. Well I suggest now that we are officially into the second half of the season, it`s time for you, Anthony, and your teammates to begin delivering on that guarantee. The Cardinals have a formidable lead on y`all at the moment. Show us some signs y`all are serious about overtaking the Redbirds. As for Lester, yes, he performed admirably tonight and deserved a better result. But this business about not throwing to first base is `concerning.` I have wondered all season why teams have not `exposed` Jon more often with this matter. The ESPN broadcasters commented tonight about that. What I do not comprehend is how this issue has come to the forefront just this season. Lester has been a major leaguer for many years, and he must have demonstrated a reticence to throw to first all that time. Why has it become an issue now? It`s curiouser and curiouser. What`s most troubling to me is that Jon Lester shows no apparent interest in `overcoming` this reluctance to throw to first. I suggested seven weeks ago or so that he `get with` Travis Wood and work on this weakness. Travis has demonstrated he has an impressive `pick off` move. Did I mention the Cubs are `offensively challenged?` Do we have to wait for players like Schwarber to be promoted before we see improvement, or are these boys on the current major league ready to produce? We Cubs fans are waiting.

Aloha jhosk- Yes, I remember the announcers speaking tonight about the lack of Lester holding runners or at the very least attempting to keep them honest. This worried them as they mentioned the Cardinals are very good at exposing folks’ weaknesses. Speaking to many baseball folks in my area, the topic of holding runners and giving up the long ball were concerns about bringing Lester over, even if for a short term rental. I know it is a concern; had the team manufactured runs when they had the opportunities, this might be a mute point for this game. But going forward, this has to be a concern. And you are right right in saying that Wood has worked on his move to first. It is like saying, “pitchers need to know how to bunt…” A pick-off move has to be a part of their game. Well, they have two tomorrow and not much wiggle room, will the defense and hitting show up? I hope so. Take care now. Mahalo.

Hey k.g. I feel your pain. However I respectfully disagree….Bryant should have gone to second for the force on the lead runner and initiate a possible double play. The runner was clearly not near second base when Bryant’s bad throw arrived in the area. Simply, Bryant should have made a better throw, his decision TO throw to second and not first was correct and good teams will get that out at second base and quite possibly the DP as well. Also regarding Ross being on the DL forcing Lester to make adjustments….I don’t think Lester is capable of getting any better when it comes to runners at first base regardless of the catcher. On the bright side Lester’s 6 no hit innings to MONTERO has shown the entire world….Ross is not crucial to Lester pitching an excellent game. Ironically Montero hit like Ross last night…he didn’t. There has been a lot of talk about the Cubs adding a solid SP which I think would be great however until they add at least one solid RBI threat to this line up to help shore up Rizzo and Bryant I am afraid we will remain inadequate when it comes to competing with the very well run Cardinals. These additions may be internal and next year (Schwarber? Baez?) or they may come via a trade this year. If the latter we may compete for a wild card spot yet this season.
I imagine an outfielder or two similar to the Jim Edmonds pick up a few years ago for CF and or LF. It appears Fowler has hit his brick wall. Could we be seeing Coghlan in CF and Denorfia in LF for a prolonged period? Until reinforcements arrive by any means I can see an outfield left to right of Denorfia, Coghlan and Soler being Maddon’s best option with this roster.

Aloha Fonzie- good point about Bryant. I think a more “seasoned” player makes that play as you speak of, not rushing the throw and getting the lead-off runner. I think he panicked because of his earlier fumble and at that point, I think he should have just taken a deep breath and make the throw to first again, because of what had transpired. But as you say, as he matures and makes more of those plays, he will get better at them. Also, your observations about the hitting are well taken, I know they paid Fowler a good amount for 1yr but if they are serious about competing they will have to make some bold moves like giving him days off and putting in Coghlan and so forth. They need a strong “contact-hitter” that will get on base as well as run the bases well, that could include stealing bases as they say. The power will come at some point but if this team can learn to play small ball and manufacture runs, it will make them a force to be reckon with. Take care now. Mahalo.

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