Jon Lester impressive in Cubs’ 6-1 spring-training victory over Angels

MESA, Ariz. — In just his third start of the spring, Cubs ace Jon Lester was so efficient Friday that he was able to talk his way into pitching a fifth inning against the Angels – and still needed to finish in the bullpen afterward to complete his pitch allotment for the day.

The quick, scoreless five innings led to a 6-1 victory over the Angels at Sloan Park — the Cubs’ quickest games of the spring (2 hours, 25 minutes).

Jon Lester on Cubs’ 2018 focus: ‘It’s good sometimes to get your butt kicked’
Cubs among teams seeing new pitching math as 200-inning starters fade away

“Fastball command was good,” said Lester, who threw just 53 pitches, allowing one hit without a walk and striking out three. “I got some early outs, which was good. They’re an aggressive team, so I just kept firing heaters and they kept hitting them at people so that makes it easier.”

Jon Lester pitched five scoreless innings against the Angels in his third start of the spring Friday.

He starts the season opener on March 29.

The Cactus League-leading Cubs improved to 11-2-2 this spring.


Left fielder Kyle Schwarber delivered the loudest hit of the game, a line-drive, no-doubt, two-run homer to right on a 3-1 pitch in the third.

It was the second homer in as many starts for Schwarber, who is 7-for-21 with five walks this spring.

Big Bat Bote

Infield prospect David Bote, who has played almost every position in the minors, continued an impressive spring with a run-scoring single in the second, and a two-run homer way out to left in the fourth, both against big-league pitcher Matt Shoemaker.

He finished 2-for-3. In 14 games this spring, Bote is 10-for-33 (.303) with three extra-base hits and three walks.

Spring cleaning

The Cubs cut 13 from big-league camp Friday, including three of their top pitching prospects, who were optioned to Class AA Tennessee: right-handers Adbert Alzolay, Duane Underwood Jr. and Oscar De La Cruz.

Ten non-roster players were reassigned to minor-league camp: pitchers Thomas Hatch, Alberto Baldonado, Craig Brooks, Daniel Camarena, David Garner and Michael Roth; catcher Ian Rice; infielder Jason Vosler; and outfielders Bijan Rademacher and Charcer Burks.

Forty-nine players remain in camp.

Young bruised but OK

The day after a frightening crash with first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a popup, infield prospect Chesny Young appeared to suffer a bruise but no concussion, manager Joe Maddon said.

“But we still want to watch him,” Maddon said.

On deck: Split squad: White Sox at Cubs, Mesa, Ariz., Lucas Giolito vs. Kyle Hendricks, Saturday 2:05 p.m., 670-AM; Cubs at Dodgers, Glendale, Ariz., Luke Farrell vs. Rich Hill, 8:05 p.m., audio.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub