MILWAUKEE – His comments after his last outing were even more surprising than his effort.
Last Sunday, Jon Lester told reporters that he wasn’t sure if he’d pull out of his recent struggles after allowing five earned runs to the Cardinals in a loss at Wrigley Field. It was uncharacteristic of the veteran pitcher, who has been a rock through good and bad since joining the Cubs in 2015.
Yet despite his own rhetoric just five days earlier, Lester was able to right himself on Friday night as the Cubs faced division rival Milwaukee on the road at Miller Park. Perhaps he finally found what was going on with his pitching, but unfortunately the offense behind him couldn’t do the same.
The Cubs could manage just two hits off Brewers’ pitching on Friday night, and it would be a sacrifice fly that would end up being their undoing. Ryan Braun’s hit to center in the ninth inning was caught by Jason Heyward, but deep enough to bring home Christian Yelich to give Milwaukee a 1-0 victory.
It continues some of the recent struggles for the offense, who were shutout for the first time this season on Friday. What makes it worse is that it wasted a much needed gem from Lester.
Lester struck out a season-high eight batters over six shutout innings on Friday, scattering just three hits while walking just two batters in that time. It’s the first time he hasn’t allowed a run in the outing since his first game of the season on July 27th in Cincinnati, when he no-hit the Reds over five innings.
The problem was that Brandon Woodruff was even better. In seven innings and 100 pitches he allowed just a single hit while striking out 12 batters without a walk. Both team’s bullpens kept the game scoreless into the ninth, but it was Rowan Wick that finally cracked.
He walked Yelich to leadoff the inning that surrendered a single to Jedd Gyorko that moved Yelich to third. Jeremy Jeffress was brought into try to get the Cubs out of it, but Braun’s sacrifice fly ended the contest.
It was night where Jon Lester appeared to find himself just five days after being lost. Unfortunately, the Cubs’ offense couldn’t find themselves on time to make it a win.