CLEVELAND -- Jon Lester wasn't upset about Roberto Pérez's home run in the fourth. He wasn't even rattled by Francisco Lindor's dancing on the bases. What did tick off the Cubs lefty were the back-to-back walks he issued in the first inning Tuesday night against the Indians in Game 1
CLEVELAND -- Jon Lester wasn't upset about Roberto Pérez's home run in the fourth. He wasn't even rattled by Francisco Lindor's dancing on the bases. What did tick off the Cubs lefty were the back-to-back walks he issued in the first inning Tuesday night against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series.
After retiring the first two batters on five pitches, Lester couldn't get any of the next five out, resulting in two runs scoring on an infield single and a hit batter with the bases loaded. That was all Cleveland needed to hand Chicago a 6-0 loss at Progressive Field.
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"I didn't throw strikes," Lester said. "There's no beating around the bush. It's not like I all of a sudden forgot how to throw a strike, I just didn't throw a strike. I didn't get ahead, didn't execute pitches. It can't happen. It's not acceptable."
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With two outs in the first, Lindor singled up the middle, then stole second amid Lester's back-to-back walks before Jose Ramirez dribbled a grounder along the third-base line for an RBI single. It was 2-0 when a Lester cutter struck Brandon Guyer, Major League Baseball's leader in hit by pitches in each of the past two regular seasons.
"Two walks can't happen, especially after two quick outs," Lester said. "I don't care about the base hit. Put the ball in play, make them earn it."
Cubs catcher David Ross said Lester seemed to lose his rhythm after Lindor's single.
"He just didn't have great command once that guy got on -- that was about it," Ross said. "He lost his command for a minute."
Lester's struggles to hold runners is well known, and the Indians planned on exploiting it.
"I was just trying to do my job and continue my plan, continue our plan," Lindor said. "I was capable of getting a good pitch to run. I'm glad [Ross] bobbled the ball [in the first]. He got me the second time."
Ross did combine with second baseman Javier Báez to throw out Lindor in the third. After that inning ended, Lester had a brief conversation with home-plate umpire Larry Vanover.
"I asked about some pitches," Lester said. "I wanted to know more if I was going crazy or if they were bad pitches. ... I feel like I did it in a professional way and he answered in a professional way and we moved on from it."
The Indians extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth on Perez's laser-beam home run. It left the bat at 112.9 mph, according to Statcast™, the hardest-hit ball off Lester all season, topping Freddie Freeman's 111.5-mph homer on April 29.
This was Lester's second World Series Game 1 assignment, and his first loss in four career starts. He began the night 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA (one earned run over 21 innings) in three previous World Series starts for the Red Sox.
The Cubs had to rally in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. They can do it again, Lester said.
"We have a long way to go," he said. "It's just like in L.A., everybody counted us out after Game 3 [of the NLCS]. They said we were the worst best team in baseball. We're here, we're not giving up. I know my guys, I know my team. I know nobody in this clubhouse is giving anything up."
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.