After turning in a clunker of a showing on Friday, the Chicago Cubs turn to left-hander Jon Lester in hopes of getting back on track Saturday afternoon.
The Chicago Cubs finally got an off day on Thursday, their first in a calendar month, and we’d all hoped that would let the club take a collective breath before beginning their final three series of the year.
Instead, Ricky Renteria’s White Sox took it to the Cubs in a 10-4 South Siders win. The Sox set the tone early when Kevan Smith took Jose Quintana deep for a three-run shot in the bottom of the second. All in all, Friday marked a forgettable return for the former Sox southpaw, as he allowed five runs on nine hits over five frames of work.
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Offensively, the Cubs looked to be hot out of the gates when Daniel Murphy golfed a ball down the right field line for his 12th home run of the year to lead off the ballgame. From there, though, Chicago went scoreless until they hung a three-spot in the top of the eighth.
It was one of those ballgames that you pretty much knew wasn’t going to go the Cubs’ way by the middle innings. But, in the final days of the regular season, every game counts – and this team needs to have a short memory.
On Saturday, Chicago sends Jon Lester to the mound in search of his 17th win of the season. He’s already picked up one win against the Cubs’ crosstown rival this year and, after his mid-season struggles, he’s put his head down and gone right back to dominating.
In his last six outings, the left-hander carries a 1.73 ERA and the Cubs have won five of those ballgames. If there’s anybody you can count on to pick up a big win, it’s Jon Lester.
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Milwaukee just keeps winning
As the Cubs faltered against the Sox, the rival Milwaukee Brewers picked up their 88th win of the season with a victory over the Pirates. That closes the gap between Chicago and Milwaukee to just 1 1/2 games with eight days left in the season.
At the same time the two Chicago clubs do battle on Saturday, the Bucs and Brew Crew will be hooking up for the second game of their three-game set. According to Fangraphs, the Cubs still have an 80.7 percent chance of winning the Central – but just two days ago, that number sat north of 90 percent.
What it boils down to is the Brewers are capitalizing – and the Cubs haven’t, at least not yet. In the month of September, Chicago is just 10-8. Milwaukee, meanwhile, enters play Saturday at 11-6. This weekend could go a long ways in deciding the division.
For the Cubs, at least on Saturday, it all starts and ends with the trusty left arm of Jon Lester.