Jon Lester took the mound Saturday night in his last tune-up start of the spring, but the performance didn’t offer much to be excited about. Albert Almora Jr. got the game going with a double down the left field line and Javier Baez brought him around for the first of his three RBI of the evening.
Then the Rockies took over. Former Cub Daniel Murphy doubled in the bottom of the 1st, then scored on a Nolan Arenado double. Arenado scored on an Ian Desmond double, and Desmond was in turn sent home by a David Dahl single, putting the Rockies ahead 3-1.
In the 3rd, Baez continued his spring training tear with a long two-run home run to left, tying the game at 3-3. The Rockies came back to score three runs in the bottom of the inning, with Ryan McMahon knocking in two and Chris Iannetta one, putting the Rockies up 6-3.
After a few uneventful innings for both sides, the Rockies piled on the pinch runners and the runs. Garrett Hampson started off the bottom of the 7th with a stand-up triple off reliever Steve Cishek. Desmond’s safety squeeze brought Hampson home, a deep left field hit for McMahon drove in pinch runner Omar Carrizales, and Tony Wolters doubled to right field to drive in two more. Raimel Tapia singled off Cishek’s replacement, Ryan Kellogg, to score Wolters and put the Rockies up 11-3.
In the top of the 8th, Cubs pinch hitter Christian Donahue hit a three-run home run off Jake McGee before the announcers could even determine who was at the plate, taking us to the final score of 11-6. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Lester looked to be having some issues getting the ball into catcher Willson Contreras’s glove, and wasn’t helped by the defense. The outfield especially seemed to have a hard time spotting the ball coming off the Rockies’ bats. Lester did lay down a bunt in the top of the 2nd and made an attempt to pick Blackmon off in the bottom of the 2nd.
Contreras came up big in the 6th, throwing Tapia trying to steal and stifling Murphy’s bunt RBI attempt.
Stats That Matter
- Baez went 2-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI. He reached in the 8th on a throwing error and was replaced by pinch runner Luis Vazquez, who was later scored by Donahue.
- Rockies starter Kyle Freeman gave up some long contact during the game, but mostly stayed out of trouble, ending the evening with 3 strikeouts and a walk on 73 pitches.
- Lester lasted four innings and gave up nine hits on 72 pitches, with six runs, four strikeouts, one walk, and one hit batsman.
The pitching staff, bullpen especially, continues to be full of question marks. The games don’t count, but Lester’s 2019 performance might not be what the Cubs were hoping for from their Opening Day starter.
The Cubs are playing at the Padres at 2:10pm CT Sunday, with Mike Montgomery on the mound against Logan Allen. WGN and 670 The Score have the game.