On Saturday, Jon Lester will make his second start at Wrigley Field since leaving the Cubs. And despite his advanced age and diminished stuff, Lester is still getting outs for a Cardinals team streaking to the postseason.
Cubs manager David Ross said that’s because the 37-year-old lefty has been able to adjust. Because Lester has generally stayed healthy, he’s been able to keep working through competition and figuring out new ways to beat opponents.
“He’s been a winner his whole life, so there’s no secret that he was going to find a way to have success,” Ross said.
Lester enters Saturday’s start 4-1 with a 4.02 ERA since the Nationals traded him to St. Louis. His previous start was his 200th win, when he beat the Brewers.
Ross doesn’t want Lester to get 201 on Saturday.
“I love Jon Lester like a brother,” Ross said, “but I want to kick his tail every time he’s out there.”
Lester received a standing ovation following a videoboard tribute in Game 1 when he was feted for reaching the 200-win plateau.
Reliever Jason Adam took quite a path to striking out the side in the seventh inning of Friday’s first game, an 8-5 Cubs loss to the Cardinals.
“Honestly, it’s kind of restored the joy of playing baseball in a lot of ways,” Adam said. “Baseball’s a business and you can get caught up in that, but just to realize that it’s a gift that I get to play every day.”
On May 21 with Triple-A Iowa, Adam suffered an open dislocation of his left ankle during batting practice and required surgery. Despite the major injury, Adam returned to the mound this month, putting up a 1.80 ERA between the Cubs’ team in the Arizona Complex League and Iowa. Then on Friday, Adam was selected from Iowa, optioned back but then recalled to serve as the 29th man for the doubleheader.
“Huge,” Ross said. “What this guy has gone through this year and what the doctors and trainers were saying about his season… there was almost a 0% chance of him being back. Pretty impressive.”
In other roster moves, catcher Robinson Chirinos was placed on the 10-day IL (retroactive to Thursday) with a left oblique strain. Outfielder Greg Deichmann was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.
Homers bust Cubs
Lefty Justin Steele continued his audition for a spot in next year’s rotation but allowed three homers and six earned runs over five innings in the Cubs’ Game 1 loss. Since joining the rotation in August, Steele is 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA.
On Friday, Steele’s day was blown up by a four-run fifth - including two of the homers - when Ross said he ran out of steam.
“This is an outing that’s easy to decipher the good from the bad,” Steele said.
Then in the Cardinals’ 12-4 victory to sweep the doubleheader, St. Louis hit five more home runs to win its 14th straight game and maintain control of the National League’s second wild-card spot.
Cubs starter Zach Davies lasted two innings and gave up six earned runs. Patrick Wisdom’s first-inning two-run home run was his 28th of the year, extending his Cubs rookie record.