Left-hander Jon Lester failed to make it out of the first inning as the Chicago Cubs ended the first half with a blowout 14-3 loss Sunday afternoon.
For the first time in his big league career, Chicago Cubs ace did not complete the first inning of a start, leaving after just two-thirds of a frame. The southpaw slowly walked off the mound with his head down – with his team down by a 10-0 margin.
In that disastrous first frame, Lester walked three and allowed six hits. An error allowed the inning to carry on, eventually leading to Francisco Cervelli‘s grand slam. As if that blast wasn’t enough, Andrew McCutchen followed up with a solo homer that capped the 10-run inning.
Chicago (43-45) fought, to a degree. The offense managed 11 base hits – although they scored just three runs against the Pirates pitching staff. Pittsburgh (42-47) scratched starter Jameson Taillon shortly before the game, giving way to Chad Kuhl. The right-hander tossed three innings of one-run ball before giving way to the pen.
The difference in the game was clear. The Pirates went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position, while Chicago went just 2-for-10. This issue permeated throughout the first half for the Cubs and is a major concern moving forward.
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A Jason Heyward RBI groundout in the top of the second got the Cubs on the board. But the Pirates added two more in the fourth and lone runs in both the sixth and ninth. Suffice to say, the Chicago bats never had a chance after being put in a 10-0 hole early.
Ian Happ continued his recent hot stretch heading into the break with an RBI groundout in the fifth. The rookie utility player ends the first half with 31 runs batted in and a .257 average. Another rookie, Victor Caratini, picked up three base hits – including his first Major League knock – in the loss.
Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. both had a pair of hits off the bench for Joe Maddon‘s club. Mike Montgomery, who entered in the top of the first in relief of Lester, ate three innings and will start the team’s first game out of the All-Star Break on Friday.
The 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday at Marlins Park in Miami. Wade Davis represents the reigning World Series champs in the affair, which no longer decides home field advantage in the Fall Classic.