October 26, 2018 at 7:52 am #17027
CHICAGO — Jon Lester may be having the best season of his career and the timing couldn’t have been better for the Chicago Cubs.
While the starting rotation has experienced its share of issues and the Cubs have struggled to find consistency [url=http://www.arizonacardinalsteamonline.com/josh-rosen-jersey]Authentic Josh Rosen Jersey[/url] , Lester has been more than steady. Lester takes a 10-2 mark into his 17th start of the season Sunday when the Cubs attempt to finish off a three-game sweep of the Minnesta Twins at Wrigley Field.
Lester has won six straight starts and allowed four runs in his five starts in June, which bodes well for a team that won its third straight game after Saturday’s 14-9 back-and-forth victory over the Twins.
Lester threw 119 pitches — a sign that at age 34 he has plenty of good work left in him — two starts back. He had thrown 106 pitches in six innings when manager Joe Maddon elected to keep Lester on the mound.
“At that point, what’s 15 or 20 more pitches,” Lester told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Said Maddon: “Jon gave what we needed.”
Lester has provided consistency while fellow starters Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood have struggled and Yu Darvish has battled injury. Lester will attempt to keep rolling Sunday against the Twins, against whom he is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 career starts.
The Twins continued to struggle Saturday and lost for the seventh time in their last nine games. For the second straight day, Minnesota blew leads as the Cubs rallied from behind twice before scoring five runs in the seventh inning to snap a 9-9 tie.
Minnesota’s bullpen allowed 10 runs and for the second straight day the Twins were unable to match the Cubs’ offense, which pounded out 20 hits on a day when the temperatures were in the 90s and the heat index registered 107 degrees.
The Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario, catcher Bobby Wilson and outfielder Max Kepler during the game to heat illness. Cubs’ center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. also left with cramping because of the conditions.
“When the conditions are like that, you do the best you can to prepare them with nutrition and hydration and all those things, but it overtook three of our guys today,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters. “So it was just tough.”
Twins right-hander Lance Lynn will take the mound against a team he is familiar with from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals. Lynn enters Sunday’s start with a 5-6 record and a 4.81 ERA. He allowed five runs (four earned) and struck out eight in his last start against the Chicago White Sox.
Lynn is 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) against the Cubs.
Lynn will try to bounce back from an outing in which he had a lead but couldn’t pitch out of trouble in his final inning.
“It’s frustrating, especially with the way things had been going all night. I had eight strikeouts in five and you’ve got 8-9 up, bases are loaded, even though it’s been kind of a funky inning, you want to have that chance,” Lynn told the team’s official website. “But with the way things had unfolded that inning, you get it. We’re trying to win the game.”
Rookie Colin Moran isn’t big on showing emotion, so he took it in stride after hitting his second grand slam of the season.
Manager Clint Hurdle, though, put the feat in perspective.
”Two grand slams in a year is pretty cool. Some guys don’t hit one their whole career,” Hurdle said after Moran’s slam helped carry the Pirates to a 7-5 victory against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. ”In his rookie season, too. He hunts pitches. He’s got a lot of confidence when he goes to the plate. He prepares.”
In fact, none of Hurdle’s 32 home runs over a 10-year career came with the bases loaded.
Corey Dickerson and Elias Diaz also homered for the Pirates, who took two of three games.
Moran connected off Tyson Ross with two outs in the fifth to put the Pirates ahead 6-3. He also hit a grand slam in the home opener on April 2, a 5-4 victory against Minnesota.
Ross, who singled and then had his first career stolen base a half inning earlier, faltered with two outs in the fifth. Austin Meadows doubled, Josh Bell walked and Josh Harrison beat out an infield single to load the bases. Moran then drove a 1-0 pitch to right for his eighth homer.
”It’s cool,” Moran said of hitting two slams in one season. ”But I guess it was just kind of nice to get some runs in there and get us the lead, so that was the biggest thing.”
The only other rookie in Pirates history to hit two grand slams in a season was Wally Westlake in 1947. Moran was the first Pirates player with two grand slams in a season since Jose Bautista in 2006.
”Those are cool things,” Hurdle said. ”They don’t happen for everybody. They don’t happen to many guys whatsoever. It goes back to preparation, opportunity and then production [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/terrell-edmunds-jersey]Authentic Terrell Edmunds Jersey[/url] , and he’s been able to pull that off. … He’s ready to hit. He knows what he’s hunting to hit.”
Moran made his big league debut with Houston in 2016, appearing in nine games. He appeared in seven games with Houston last season before being sent to Pittsburgh along with Joe Musgrove and two other players in the deal for Gerrit Cole. Moran had 34 big league at-bats coming into this season.
”He’s one of the calmest people I’ve ever played with,” Dickerson said. ”He just has no emotion. He has a good plan. He does the same thing every day. You don’t ever change stuff up. He’s very simple. Simple sometimes is the best in great moments like that. He came through.”
Dickerson homered in the second, his sixth, and Diaz homered leading off the sixth, his sixth.
The Padres closed to 7-5 on Wil Myers’ infield RBI single with one out in the sixth and then loaded the bases on Eric Hosmer’s walk. But Steven Brault got Hunter Renfroe to hit a flyball to right that wasn’t deep enough to bring in Jose Pirela, and Kyle Crick struck out pinch-hitter Christian Villanueva.
Crick (1-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win. Felipe Vazquez pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Ross (5-6), who has been mentioned in trade rumors, was chased by Diaz’s homer. Ross had his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs and seven hits, with three walks and no strikeouts.
”I didn’t throw the ball particularly well,” Ross said. ”I could’ve been a lot better with two outs and two strikes. That’s kind of where I really got myself into trouble.
”That big fifth inning, had two strikes on Meadows and two outs, and double to left and then everything kind of unfolded from there. Days like this happen. I still had a chance to win that game, just wasn’t able to put hitters away when I had two-strike counts.”
Said manager Andy Green: ”You’ve got two outs and nobody on and Tyson on the mound, you kind of like that situation right there. Next thing you know, bases are loaded and one pitch is hit out of the ball park, and that kind of changes the trajectory of the game. It’s a frustrating one.”
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon went 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, and seven hits while striking out four and walking three. He got the first two outs of the fifth before allowing Renfroe’s homer to left, his fifth, that pulled the Padres to 6-4. Taillon allowed singles to Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje before making way for Edgar Santana, who struck out Freddy Galvis.
Ross hit a sacrifice fly that gave the Padres a 2-1 lead in the second. He singled with two outs in the fourth and then got the first stolen base of his career. He was stranded when Manuel Margot grounded out.
Renfroe also hit an RBI double in the third.
The Padres agreed to terms with LHP Ryan Weathers, their first-round selection, seventh overall, in June’s amateur draft. He is the son of former big league pitcher David Weathers.
Pirates: RHP Nick Kingham (2-3, 3.82) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to start Monday night’s opener of a three-game series at the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will counter with LHP Alex Wood (4-5, 4.00).
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (7-7, 4.29) is scheduled to start Tuesday night’s opener of a two-game series at Oakland, which counters with RHP Chris Bassitt (1-3, 2.82).
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