It was hot in Chicago last night.
I’m not talking about the rising end-of-May temperatures. I’m not even talking about Kris Bryant’s bedroom eyes.
I’m talking about the heat Max Scherzer and Jon Lester were throwing down the middle of the plate during last night’s pitcher’s duel. 23 strikeouts between the two superstars; 13 for Scherzer and 10 for Lester.
Even though the Cubs were shut out, you can’t deny that Jon Lester did a phenomenal job holding off one of the most powerful teams in baseball. His only mistake was a solo home run given up to the one and only Bryce Harper in the sixth inning. One bad pitch to arguably the hottest hitter in all of baseball? It was unfortunate, but I still don’t think that’s too bad.
However, the three errors that the Cubs accumulated during the game isn’t acceptable if this team wants to be competitive. Addison Russell’s throwing error in the fourth inning that allowed Yunel Escobar to score, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead is the perfect example. That little error easily could have been the deciding play of the game with two of baseball’s top pitchers on the mound.
While Russell’s mistake was painful to watch, I would guess many could let it slide because he’s so young and relatively inexperienced. Don’t forget that Russell has primarily been a shortstop but was shifted over to second base until Javier Baez is ready to rejoin to big leagues. On the other hand, Starlin Castro contributing to the Cubs’ other two errors last night was completely unacceptable. Everyone makes mistakes but a veteran like Castro shouldn’t be doing that with routine ground balls as often as he does. Thankfully those errors didn’t lead to any runs for the Nats last night, but the Cubs may not get so lucky in the future.
Overall, I was pleased with the fight the Cubs gave Scherzer and the Nats. They did a great job of making contact off the right-handed superstar, even though it didn’t quite go their way. And I can’t sing enough praises for Jon Lester, a guy I’ve been somewhat skeptical of since the Cubs decided to sign him to a massive contract for the next six years. If you told me after Lester’s disastrous April that he would go seven innings against Max Scherzer with 10 strikeouts, two walks and one earned run, I wouldn’t believe you.
As of now, Scherzer and Lester and scheduled to matchup again next Sunday for the series finale in DC. Maybe the Cubs can learn from last night’s mistakes and rally to take down Scherzer and the Nats.