Preview: Twins at Cubs
While the starting rotation has experienced its share of issues and the Cubs have struggled to find consistency, Lester has been more than steady. Lester takes a 10-2 mark into his 17th start of the season Sunday when the Cubs attempt to finish off a three-game sweep of the Minnesta Twins at Wrigley Field.
Lester has won six straight starts and allowed four runs in his five starts in June, which bodes well for a team that won its third straight game after Saturday’s 14-9 back-and-forth victory over the Twins.
Lester threw 119 pitches — a sign that at age 34 he has plenty of good work left in him — two starts back. He had thrown 106 pitches in six innings when manager Joe Maddon elected to keep Lester on the mound.
“At that point, what’s 15 or 20 more pitches,” Lester told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Said Maddon: “Jon gave what we needed.”
Lester has provided consistency while fellow starters Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood have struggled and Yu Darvish has battled injury. Lester will attempt to keep rolling Sunday against the Twins, against whom he is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 career starts.
The Twins continued to struggle Saturday and lost for the seventh time in their last nine games. For the second straight day, Minnesota blew leads as the Cubs rallied from behind twice before scoring five runs in the seventh inning to snap a 9-9 tie.
Minnesota’s bullpen allowed 10 runs and for the second straight day the Twins were unable to match the Cubs’ offense, which pounded out 20 hits on a day when the temperatures were in the 90s and the heat index registered 107 degrees.
The Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario, catcher Bobby Wilson and outfielder Max Kepler during the game to heat illness. Cubs’ center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. also left with cramping because of the conditions.
“When the conditions are like that, you do the best you can to prepare them with nutrition and hydration and all those things, but it overtook three of our guys today,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters. “So it was just tough.”
Twins right-hander Lance Lynn will take the mound against a team he is familiar with from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals. Lynn enters Sunday’s start with a 5-6 record and a 4.81 ERA. He allowed five runs (four earned) and struck out eight in his last start against the Chicago White Sox.
Lynn is 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) against the Cubs.
Lynn will try to bounce back from an outing in which he had a lead but couldn’t pitch out of trouble in his final inning.
“It’s frustrating, especially with the way things had been going all night. I had eight strikeouts in five and you’ve got 8-9 up, bases are loaded, even though it’s been kind of a funky inning, you want to have that chance,” Lynn told the team’s official website. “But with the way things had unfolded that inning, you get it. We’re trying to win the game.”