Jon Lester is getting really good at this whole 'extra-innings pinch-hit squeeze bunt' thing
Back in 2016, the Cubs and Mariners were tied at 6 in the bottom of the 12th at Wrigley Field -- but Chicago had
Yes, seriously: Maddon called on Lester -- a career .083/.138/.125 hitter in 216 at-bats -- to lay down a squeeze bunt with the game on the line. Naturally, it worked like a charm, and the Cubs walked off with a win.
Flash forward nearly two years to Saturday's Cubs-Brewers game. Chicago found itself in a similar situation, leading by two in the top of the ninth and looking to tack on some insurance with
Lester had clearly been practicing his form, because he dropped an absolutely perfect bunt down the first-base line to drive in a run. Two bunts, two RBIs, two wins. To make it even more impressive, he didn't even know his at-bat was coming:
"There was no plan," Lester told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "As you saw, I literally ran on the field as [Bryant] was being [intentionally] walked. There was no chance of discussing a plan. Just look at signs and pay attention to [third-base coach Brian Butterfield]."
His manager, though, never doubted him: "Jon has that in his back pocket," Maddon said. "I still think Jon Lester has a great swing. People are not believing me. Watch the guy hit a golf ball. It's incredible. Purely from a technical perspective, his swing is outstanding. I feel pretty good with him out there."
Well played, Joe.