What You Need to Know: It was the Jon Lester show at Wrigley, as the veteran lefty submitted his second straight start of seven innings and no runs. A leadoff hit by pitch of Kris Bryant and a misplayed Jason Heyward double led to two runs in the Cubs’ first, and that was all they would need to put away the Pirates and seal their fifth-straight series victory.
Next Level: Big Jon looks vintage of late, and he lowered his season ERA to a cool 2.22, a mark that would be the best of his career. This afternoon, he allowed a lone hit and two walks while striking out five. Hard contact early gave way to soft contact and quick plate appearances from Pirates hitters. It seems as though we have Cy Young-caliber Lester back after a middling 2017, and that’s a big factor in the Cubs recent success.
In that same vein, the bullpen continues to be lights out—this, without Carl Edwards. Justin Wilson was the guy today, tossing a clean eighth inning while striking out two. Wilson is finding his groove in a Cubs uniform for the first time, and he’s reliably one of the best arms in the ‘pen right now.
Steve Cishek was dominant in a save situation, even though he admitted postgame that he thought he was pitching the eighth inning. Cishek might be worn out by the end of the season, but he’s been an incredibly valuable fireman for Joe Maddon.
Top Play (WPA): The biggest play of the day was Heyward’s surprise double (+.098). The resurgent right fielder lifted a ball deep into left center, and the normally sure-footed Starling Marte simply slipped and fell as the ball found the wet grass behind him. Bryant moved to third on the play, and both would score.
Bottom Play (WPA): A testament to Lester’s dominance, the worst play for the Cubs was Lester’s one-out walk to Josh Bell in the second (-.038). That followed a David Freese walk, and together they constituted the Pirates’ best scoring opportunity. Of course, a Lester would escape unscathed.
Up Next: Sunday’s finale features the return of Pittsburgh’s Iván Nova opposite Kyle Hendricks at 1:20 pm CT. The Cubs look to continue their dominance and sweep.
Lead photo courtesy Patrick Gorski—USA Today Sports