CHICAGO -- A year ago, Jonathan Lester lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Mets in a start just prior to the All-Star break. On Sunday, it was the same time but an even worse outing for the Cubs' left-hander.Lester was unable to finish the first inning for the first
CHICAGO -- A year ago, Jonathan Lester lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Mets in a start just prior to the All-Star break. On Sunday, it was the same time but an even worse outing for the Cubs' left-hander.
Lester was unable to finish the first inning for the first time in his career, giving up 10 runs (four earned) over two-thirds of an inning in the Cubs' 14-3 loss to the Pirates. He threw 53 pitches to 12 batters -- including Francisco Cervelli, who hit a grand slam to blow open what was already a 5-0 game.
"If I had a reason, I would've fixed it out there," Lester said. "Unfortunately, it's never a good time to have a bad start. I really don't know -- I don't know what to say to make it better, to give you a reason. It kind of speaks for itself. It's embarrassing."
Lester said he felt fine.
"The second pitch of the game, I thought I threw a really good pitch and [Josh Harrison] hits a laser," Lester said. "Nothing I can say can to justify or give you a reason behind today. I think it pretty much speaks for itself -- it's embarrassing. Anything else said about it is probably not the right thing."
Lester might have gotten out of the inning clean if third baseman Kristopher Bryant had handled David Freese's grounder, but instead it got past him for an error, which loaded the bases with one out. Lester then gave up three straight run-scoring hits, walked a batter, got a sacrifice, then walked another to load the bases for Cervelli.
Lester's previous shortest outing was 1 1/3 innings on July 3, 2016, which was that game against the Mets.
"It's really unbelievable to see Jon in that situation, although, it did happen, almost a similar situation in New York, almost the same time of the year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "For whatever reason, it happens. It puts you in tough spot."
The Cubs' bullpen could definitely use some rest over the All-Star break. Mike Montgomery went 2 1/3 innings on Thursday, Eddie Butler lasted four-plus on Friday, and Jacob Arrieta went 5 2/3 innings on Saturday.
"We're not happy," Maddon said of the feeling in the Cubs' clubhouse. "Of course, guys are frustrated. That's just a normal human reaction. We just have to get beyond that and come back in the second half to play like we're capable of playing. There's nobody quitting or giving up."
The Cubs are tied with the Cardinals for second in the National League Central, 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers. They still have a chance in the second half.
"I think the big thing for us is to play good baseball, play solid baseball," Lester said. "Forget the record, forget the batting averages, our ERA, and just get back to playing good sound baseball. The talent on this team will speak for itself."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.