The Chicago Cubs pitcher was frustrated after Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers after losing 4-0, as he knew he was unable to keep the game in the park for the Chicago Cubs. Jon Lester, the starting pitcher, did not control his fast ball early in the game and gave up two runs in the first inning and two in the second. Lester usually does not give up back-to-back hits in the first inning, but the left-handed pitcher was a little off his game.
After he walked A.J. Ellis, he shouted something in the direction of Andy Fletcher the home-plate umpire. Fletcher was upset at the comment and started to approach Lester about it, but the catcher stepped in front of Fletcher, and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon immediately came to the aid of his pitcher and proceeded to have a heated debate with Fletcher. Maddon seemed to irritate Fletcher so much that it surprised everyone in attendance that the manager was not thrown out of the game.
After the game, Lester said he understood why the umpire was so upset, but he did not direct his comment to him, which is why he had his head down when he was yelling. The lefty had said he knew he needed better execution with his fastball. This current loss with the Dodgers brings him to a 4-6 record. Lester is starting his first season with the Chicago Cubs, and really wanted to keep this game in the park with a strong performance against L.A.. The first four hits he gave up led to four runs being scored, which was very similar to three years ago, when he also only pitched four innings due to the same problem. Lester’s problem was that he had practically no control on his fastball.
David Ross, the catcher for the Chicago Cubs said he speaks to the umpires so often, they must get sick of him by the time the game is over. He usually does not have heated words on the field, but Thursday was a little out of the ordinary. Ross said he has never stepped in front of an umpire, but it was nothing to sweat over. He recalled the game on May 11, against the Mets, when Lester was batting and an apparent miscommunication occurred. Fletcher needed to be certain that Thursday’s comment was not directed at him.
Lester had trouble in his last several starts for the Chicago Cubs, and his ERA has gone to 5.74. In over 26 innings, he gave up more than 16 earned runs. Lester again said his recent trouble
has to do with controlling his fastball and other key pitches, but saying it is easier than doing it. He said he was also agitated when Maddon took him out for the pinch hitter in the fourth inning with men on base. Lester felt he could have gotten the last out before he was taken out. An American League team may have taken the risk and let him stay in the game a little longer. The pitcher felt like things were straightening themselves out and starting to work better for him.
The lefty was able to get three strikeouts in a row in the third, and did not give up any runs in the fourth inning. Ross told reporters that Lester is the kind of player that gives his best every time he steps to the mound. He added that the Chicago Cubs pitcher is the type of player who really knows how he could have kept it in the park against L.A.
By Katherine Miller-Chichester
CHC news: Lester frustrated but not with home plate ump
Chicago Tribune.com: Thursday’s recap; Dodgers 4, Cubs 0
MLB.com: Maddon on Lester’s 4-0 loss
Photo Courtesy of Phil Roeder’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License