Cubs

Late Reds rally dooms Cubs in 4-2 loss

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Late Reds rally dooms Cubs in 4-2 loss

Facing his former team, Cubs left-hander Travis Wood pitched one of the sharpest games of his season, striking out eight and allowing a run in seven innings against the Reds.
But James Russell was unable to preserve the Cubs one-run lead, allowing three runs in the eighth inning. Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run double, and Wilson Valdezs RBI single tacked on another run.
Woods eight strikeouts tied his career high. He walked one and gave up five hits. Wood last allowed fewer than two runs in an outing on July 1, when he threw 7 23 scoreless innings against the Astros.
The Reds traded Wood to the Cubs in December for Sean Marshall. Wood batted for himself in the seventh, but Russell replaced him on the mound for the eighth. Russell allowed a leadoff double to Drew Stubbs and a single to Phillips before Ludwicks two-run double put the Reds ahead 3-2.
The Cubs opened the scoring with David DeJesuss two-out, two-run single off Bronson Arroyo in the second inning.
The Reds cut the lead to 2-1 on Todd Fraziers RBI single in the fourth. Wood allowed a one out double to Brandon Phillips and hit Ryan Ludwick before giving up the single.
Arroyo allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings, striking out four and walking one. In the lineup a day after committing an ugly baserunning mistake, Starlin Castro flew out in his first two at-bats before he singled in the sixth inning.
The Cubs will try to split the four-game series in the finale Sunday.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start."