Chicago Cubs: Offense bails out Jon Lester, defense in big win

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

This game got off to an ugly start. But the Chicago Cubs quickly turned it around and delivered a big win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It looked like it was going to be another ugly game for the Chicago Cubs, another disappointing loss in a game they needed to have as the season is down to just over two weeks left.

Instead, after the Pirates put up four runs in the top of the first, the Cubs’ offense exploded for 17 runs in five innings, including five home runs, as the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 17-8, on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Jon Lester, already coming off a rough start last time out against the Milwaukee Brewers, struggled again in the first inning. In fairness, the team as a whole looked terrible as they made two throwing errors on the same play that allowed one of the Pirates’ first-inning runs to score. As he did in his previous start, Lester also showed a lot of visible frustration with the strike zone, this time from home plate umpire David Rackley.

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After that, Lester settled in nicely before the Pirates made things a little too interesting in the fifth, again helped out by a throwing error from Willson Contreras. Lester showed more frustration after giving up an RBI hit to Elias Diaz, but he did get Kevin Newman to ground out as the potential tying run.

In spite of the shaky defense, we have to continue to be concerned about Lester and have to wonder what his role would be should the Cubs make the postseason. In a potential one-and-done Wild Card game, there’s no way that Joe Maddon can give Lester the ball at this point.

In all, Lester was able to go five innings, and the Cubs got some good work from Brad Wieck and Alec Mills out of the bullpen to close the deal.

As for the defense, I’m not too concerned about it. It was just one of those days, and hopefully, they’ll clean it up tomorrow.

Now for the fun part: the offense. After Anthony Rizzo chopped a single through the middle to lead off the first, Nicholas Castellanos homered, and the Cubs were off to the races. Contreras would hit two home runs in this game, while Nico Hoerner continued to impress early in his career with a home run and four RBIs.

Interestingly, Lester may have had the most crucial plate appearance of the game. With two runners on and two out in the third, he took a walk that set up a Rizzo grand slam. David Bote also quietly had an excellent game, walking three times and scoring two runs.

After the Pirates got it to within 10-7, we have to give credit to the Cubs’ offense for continuing to add on and shift any momentum the Pirates may have built in the top of the fifth. Jason Heyward continued to hit well of late, coming off the bench and hitting a three-run double as part of the seven-run bottom of the fifth.

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Facing a bad Pirates team at home, this was a game the Cubs had to have, and though it wasn’t always pretty, they were able to slug their way to victory. It was especially important to win since the Cardinals and Brewers are playing each other this weekend, and one team the Cubs are battling for a playoff spot will win each day. With Kyle Hendricks on the mound tomorrow, hopefully, the Cubs can keep it going against the Pirates.