The Cubs inched closer to reaching their first goal with the 2-1 win over the Giants behind Jon Lester’s complete game gem. Joe Maddon’s team posted its 87th win of the season and coupled with the Cardinals 3-2 loss in Cincinnati, the Cubs will begin play Saturday with a 16 ½ game lead in the NL Central.
The Cubs are 87-47 on Sept. 3, 40 games over .500, and lead all of Major League Baseball with 50 wins against teams with a .500 record or better.
The Cubs have baseball’s best home record (50-19), the .725 home winning percentage is the best in franchise history since 1935 (.727). The Cubs have a full eight-game lead over the Nationals for the best record in the National League.
Jon Lester completed his second game of the season Friday in what was his best start with the Cubs. Lester shut down a Giants lineup that knocked him out of the game on May 21 in the third inning after putting a five-spot on the board.
Lester took a no-hitter into the seventh, the 13th time in his career he’s pitched at least five no-hit innings. Hunter Pence broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out home run. Lester gave up two more hits and made only 102 pitches in nine sensational innings. Friday was the 14th complete game of Lester’s career. And with victory No. 15 on the season, Lester has now won at least 15 games seven times in his career.
Jon Lester has pitched his way into the NL Cy Young Award conversation, joining teammates Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks. Lester is 5-0 in his last seven starts (Cubs 6-1) with a 1.35 ERA. For the season, Lester is 15-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.04 WHIP after 27 games. Lester is tied for the lead in baseball with 22 quality starts.
According to ESPN Chicago, Lester could get the ball for the first game of the National League Division Series. Jesse Rogers pointed out the Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants struggle against lefties. And having Lester lined up for two starts in a five game series “makes all the sense in the world.”
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) September 2, 2016
John Lackey – Cubs Rotation
The Cubs announced Friday that John Lackey will be reinstated from the disabled list and start Sunday’s finale with the Giants. Lackey has been on the DL since Aug. 19 with a right shoulder strain. Lackey made his last start on Aug. 14. Lackey was 1-0 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in the three games before he left his start against the Cardinals with pain in his shoulder.
With Lackey going Sunday, the Cubs will push Kyle Hendricks back a day.
Kyle Hendricks will start on Labor Day against the Brewers at Miller Park. Jason Hammel will pitch game two on Tuesday (7:10pm CDT). Joe Maddon wasn’t ready to commit to Mike Montgomery starting Wednesday’s finale at Miller Park.
The Cubs have talked about using a six-man rotation but haven’t committed to it fully.
As of Friday afternoon, the next four starters are Jake Arrieta (Giants, Saturday), John Lackey (Giants, Sunday), Kyle Hendricks (Brewers, Monday) and Jason Hammel (Brewers, Tuesday).
The Cubs could have Jon Lester pitch Wednesday at Miller Park on regular rest if the decision is made to put Montgomery back in the bullpen.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. doubled in a run in Iowa’s 3-2 win over Colorado Springs on Friday night. Almora Jr. batted third, played center field and went 1-for-4 with a double and a RBI.
Almora Jr. has been rather hot at the plate over the last week. Almora Jr. has at least one hit in six of the seven games he’s played in since coming back from the disabled list. He is 9-for-30 with a walk and three runs scored. Almora Jr. was 4-for-5 on Wednesday with a run scored and a RBI, his first four-hit game of the season. Almora Jr. leads the I-Cubs with 10 three-hit games this season.
Almora Jr. is one of a handful of players expected to be recalled next week after the I-Cubs play the last game of the season on Monday.
News, Notes and Rumors
• ESPN Chicago reported on eight years later, Anthony Rizzo recalls overcoming cancer. Rizzo celebrated eight-year anniversary of remission according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Comcast SportsNet reported eight years after cancer remission, Anthony Rizzo maintains perspective.
• Bruce Levine talked to Pedro Strop about the setback he suffered during the rehab from left knee surgery. Strop told Levine that he strained his groin “using a leg machine with 50 pounds of weight.” Strop said he is hoping to be back in two weeks.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Kris Bryant shrugs off ‘MVP’ chants from Cubs fans, focused on big picture.
• According to Buster Olney, Kyle Hendricks is proving as difficult to hit as the NL’s big-name starters.
• ESPN Chicago asked if the Cubs can answer some October questions in Giants series.
• According to Carrie Muskat, Joe Maddon hasn’t given thought to a potential postseason roster.
• ESPN Chicago reported don’t call Jason Heyward a bust. There is no reason to think Cubs blew it with big-money signing.
• Rob Zastryzny needs a nickname according to ESPN Chicago [must-see video]
• Mark Grote pointed out that Dexter Fowler has seen 54 pitches in the first two games against the Giants.
• According to Jonah Keri with coaches like Steve Kerr, Pete Carroll and Joe Maddon, pro sports teams remember to have fun.
• Derrick Goold noted that Saturday was the fifth anniversary of the last time the Cardinals scored a run off Aroldis Chapman.
• ESPN posted its playoff team predictions.
• The Tribune reported Dexter Fowler provided a back-to-school push. Fowler paid off the back-to-school-supply layaway accounts of 43 area families.
• Jon Heyman has heard Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod linked to the Twins and the team’s GM opening. Heyman pointed out that he’s not received confirmation if the Twins are actually interested or not.
• Jed Hoyer politely explained why the Cubs didn’t attend Tim Tebow’s showcase.
• Mike Fontenot was in the Cubs clubhouse on Friday visiting his former team.
• The Giants decided not to add RHP Joe Nathan to the team’s 40-man roster, for now.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 2, 2016
And last, but not least, Jesse Rogers passed on something pretty cool about Joe Maddon. Rogers discovered that Maddon “writes a note to himself on his scorecard every day regarding managing: ‘Don’t be a fan.’”
This Day in Cubstory
2004 – Cubs traded Andy Pratt to the Brewers for Ben Grieve
2002 – Cubs released Donovan Osborne
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Bobby Ayala
1991 – Carl Edwards Jr., born
1984 – In a 5-4 Cubs victory over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium, Rick Sutcliffe struck out 15 batters and tied a franchise record for strikeouts in a single-game. Sutcliffe joined Dick Drott (1957) and Burt Hooton (1971) for the franchise single-game record that was broken in 1998 by Kerry Wood and his 20 strikeouts against the Astros.
1971 – Owner P.K. Wrigley took out advertisements in the newspapers that criticized the players in the “Dump Durocher Clique.” While praising Durocher, Wrigley added a post-script to the ads that he wished the Cubs could find more team players like Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub played his last game on Sept. 26.
1970 – Billy Williams asked to sit out and ended his National League record of playing in 1,117 straight games. Steve Garvey topped Williams’ record in 1983 after beginning his streak of 1,207 consecutive games five years later (Sept. 3, 1975).
1970 – Chad Fox, born
1967 – Luis Gonzalez, born
1963 – Ced Landrum, born
1925 – George Gibson replaced Rabbit Maranville as Cubs manager after team president Bill Veeck Sr. learned Maranville raced through the Pullman (a train) anointing players with water from a spittoon.
1908 – Cubs lost 1-0 to the Pirates in 10 innings at Pittsburgh. Johnny Evers argued that the Pirates’ Warren Gill failed to touch second base on the game-winning hit, but his plea was ignored by umpire Hank O’Day. This game was a forerunner to the Fred Merkle incident on Sept. 23 that also involved Evers and O’Day.