CINCINNATI — Jon Lester considered the subject and then pleaded into the microphone as if speaking to some baseball weather entity nobody else could see.
“Can we not get any rain one time?” he said after his rain-delayed start last weekend against the White Sox. “Predicting weather is always fun. I’m sure in Atlanta it will rain again, and we’ll have another delay, so it’ll be three in a row.”
Make it four.
And as far as Lester is concerned, let it rain.
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Because if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably Lester’s day to pitch.
The Cubs’ ace has endured rain delays all four days he was scheduled to pitch in May, totaling more than seven hours of delays in four cities.
Include the rainout April 5, and it has been five times this season.
“It wasn’t easy,” Lester (4-1) said
after pitching through nonstop rain Friday night to beat the Reds 8-1 at Great American Ball Park. “You just figure out a way to deal with it.
“I guess the added bonus was I grew up in the Northwest,” said the native of the Seattle area. “So 70 percent of my high school games were in [expletive] like this. I’m kind of used to it, I guess.”
Maybe that explains some of it.
While others in the rotation have struggled around him — some with walks, some with weather, others with balks and non-cramps —
Lester has thrived in adverse conditions.
The Cubs’ stone-faced, $155 million veteran did it again, waiting out more than 1½ hours of rain before sailing through six innings, allowing only two hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.
This came one night after he sat through a 2-hour, 20-minute delay before his scheduled start in Atlanta was postponed, pushing him to Friday.
At this rate, he might want to pack his own storm clouds for trips.
The Cubs have averaged 6.8 runs in Lester’s four starts after he has had to endure wet weather, not counting the 21 runs the Cubs scored in the two games with no rain but with temperatures below 50 degrees.
Lester’s ability to adapt underscores the Cubs’ thinking when they gave him the biggest contract in franchise history at the time — a left-hander who would be a key to launching a competitive window after three years of tanking.
And he has been the key to keeping the rotation afloat while three of the five — Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood — have struggled to catch up.
“I thought his approach before the game was great,” manager Joe Maddon said of his preparation during the delay. “I kept informing him as I was informed. And he was not antsy; he was not over-amped or nothing. He was just, ‘OK, OK.’ ’’
By the time Lester gave up a hit in the fourth, he had a 4-0 lead. By the time he gave up a run, he had a six-run lead.
“He handled the day like you would expect a guy of his caliber to do,” Maddon said. “And he’s had practice this year.”