Lester Deals – Schwarber Delivers to Waveland
Last night’s game was the game fans have been waiting for since opening day. Dominant starting pitching, crisp defense, and some loud homeruns by some big boys. Lasting just over two hours, the game was quick and clean. If you’re looking for a game to build off, this is the one. Three hard hit home runs off a top national league pitcher is enough to spark a bipolar offense out of this lull of inconsistency. Speaking of hard hit, how about 114.2 mph off the bat of Kyle Schwarber?! Combine that with a 26-degree launch angle and you have yourself a souvenir for the fans on Sheffield Avenue, 470 feet away. According to a post on the Cubs Instagram page, Kyle’s homer is the first ball hit to Sheffield since August 19, 2014, well before the bleachers were renovated. On top of that, it’s nice to see Heyward continue to put the ball in play with authority post disabled list, and Anthony Rizzo is starting to turn around his .771 OBP with more consistent power over the last week.
What can be said about ACE Jon Lester? He must have had a side deal with Rob Manfred and the pace of play police. Lester had it right away and never backed down. Jon struck out the side in the first, a seemingly impossible feat for the 2017 Cubs starting staff, and was given an early lead after the Schwarber dinger. He would collect 4 more strike outs before allowing a run in the 5th on a couple doubles from catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford. After that Jon took it to another level, slamming the door shut with three more strike outs over four perfect innings to for his 15th career compete game. The most impressive feat of the 10 K performance was the fact that he needed just 99 pitches. An achievement some refer to as a “Maddux” after cub legend Greg Maddux, who regularly completed games with no more than 99 pitches (looking on the online, however, I did see a few sources say the true “Maddux” is a complete game shutout, but I’m willing to let that slide for Jon. You try telling him no). The starting rotation as a whole has started to come around in terms of outing length, something that helps the bullpen stay rested and sharp. Hopefully this is the beginning of good things to come for the staff, with warmer weather on the horizon (someday?).
While Ian Happ had a quiet day at the plate, he showed some range in center and just generally looks comfortable and confident on defense. While I see him more as a corner outfielder (let’s not forget he’s primarily a second baseman) it is great to see him showing promise at the big-league level, in a bigtime position.
I am sure everyone has seen video of the Cubs and Brewers rain delay bullpen dance-off from the previous series. That camera, and left field videoboard, now shows those same goofballs celebrating when a Cubs player hits a homer, which I found to be rather hilarious.
As I put the finishing touches on the draft I wrote on train ride home from the game, the Dodgers walked-off the Cardinals in the bottom of the 13th. The turf monster got a hold of right fielder Stephen Piscotty‘s leg as a ball off the bat of Logan Forsythe rattled around in the corner. This allowed Keke Hernandez to score, sending Dodger fans and Cubs fans to bed happy.