Chicago Cubs: Placing the Game 1 blame where it belongs
After a series-opening loss on Saturday night, the Chicago Cubs’ fan base was ready to place the blame where it didn’t belong – yet again.
I genuinely feel bad for Jon Lester.
In Game 1 of the National League Division Series, the veteran southpaw held the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense to one run in his first seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth, where Mike Matheny‘s club pushed across a trio of runs to take a 4-0 lead.
After the game, I heard more than a few Cubs fans call out Lester, saying if he’d located his pitches more effectively, the team would have won. Never mind the fact that Chicago failed to score a run and tallied just three hits – it was Jon Lester’s fault and that was that.
At work on Saturday night, we had the game on as we all donned our Chicago Cubs gear. One of my co-workers was a one-man wrecking ball when it came to Lester and his work, saying repeatedly the Cubs were “dumb” to not hand the ball to Jake Arrieta in Game 1.
Now, I feel like it’s important to point something out: this ‘fan’ went out before he came into work to buy a Cubs windbreaker – but apparently, despite not owning a single piece of team apparel, he’s a bona-fide expert on big league starting pitching.
Never mind the fact that Arrieta struggled in his last outing and Lester carried a career postseason 2.66 earned run average and two World Series rings into that start. Feel free to look past the fact that Arrieta has already blown past his career-high in innings pitched – clearly, that has no impact on a starting pitcher.
Give me a break.
If you want to place blame on anyone for the Chicago Cubs’ series-opening loss, look into the New York Mets’ dugout and drop it at the feet of Matt Harvey.
On a night when temperatures dropped to October-like levels, prompting long sleeves and gloves in the dugout, Harvey demonstrated pinpoint control over his entire repertoire, making Cubs hitters look foolish all night-long.
The right-hander, who has found himself on the front page of New York tabloids more often than he or the Mets would like this season, struck out nine Chicago hitters, drawing praise from Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon.
"“[Harvey] was outstanding tonight,” Maddon said. “Give him credit, because he had about as good of command as you possibly can of all his pitches. His stuff is always good, but the command was outrageous tonight. Therein lies the game, because Jon pitched well, too.”"
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So, like I said. If you want to blame anyone for the Chicago Cubs’ loss, look at Harvey and the Mets. The visiting team looked off-kilter the entire game and never appeared to play with the ease we saw late in the NLDS, but you have to credit that to Harvey’s dominance.
Don’t blame Jon Lester. Sure, he’s the scapegoat because he’s playing on a $155 million contract and is supposed to bring October glory to the North Side of Chicago. But when your offense doesn’t back you, you don’t win games.
Lester wasn’t at his best, but you’re crazy if you think that’s why the Chicago Cubs lost Saturday’s series opener at Citi Field.