Cubs,Chatwood survive another shaky night for bullpen
Jon Lester told the story of a request denied by former Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
"In '16, I tried to talk Joe into letting me and Lack (John Lackey) go to one of the rooftops for an inning during a game, but that got kiboshed pretty quick," Lester said.
Maybe new manager David Ross would give the OK, although there's no reason to climb onto a rooftop right now when every seat inside Wrigley Field is available.
But Ross is on a roll in his first week on the job. The Cubs improved to 6-2 on the season with Saturday's 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field. The Pirates scored all 3 of their runs in the ninth inning.
Tyler Chatwood delivered his second straight successful start. He went 6⅔ innings, giving up no runs, 3 hits and 11 strikeouts, which tied a career-high. He gave up 1 run in 6 innings in his first start against the Brewers.
The offense consisted of two solo home runs to center field by Ian Happ and Javy Baez in the third inning, then an opposite-field 2-run shot by Kyle Schwarber in the eighth. The Cubs have homered in their first eight games of a season for the first time since 1958.
The bullpen was a mixed bag, as usual. When Chatwood began to tire, Jeremy Jeffress had to come in with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. Jeffress retired four straight batters, but Kyle Ryan lost the shutout in the ninth by giving up a 2-run homer to Colin Moran.
Bryan Reynolds followed with a double and later scored, while Rowan Wick got the final two outs to pick up the save.
For all the talk about the Cubs being a tight-knit group that has pulled together under trying conditions this summer, there's also a sense that players are really happy to have Ross as manager.
That's not necessarily a knock on Maddon. But if it was time to move on, the players wanted Ross, a catcher for the Cubs in 2015-16, back in their lives.
"I think we were all kind of rooting for that," Lester said before the game. "We obviously knew the candidates. I'm sure guys kept in contact with Theo (Epstein) or Jed (Hoyer) or whoever throughout the process. I think guys like myself, we gravitate toward things we know and the things you're comfortable with. So when Rossy's name comes up and he's willing to take the job if it's given to him, I think guys are all on board for that."
During the last four years of Ross' playing career, he was Lester's preferred catcher, with the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Lester also provided some insight into why Ross is off to a good start as manager.
"I think the biggest thing with Rossy is just his energy," Lester said. "The presence that he brings when he's in a dugout or the clubhouse; he demands respect, he demands attention to detail. And guys know that when we show up to play every day.
"So when we're out doing our work, you kind of feel like he's always watching you. Not in a bad way, but you just kind of want to do the right things to keep the line moving offensively or keep the line moving as far as the rotation."
There was a late lineup change before Saturday's game. Kris Bryant was scratched because of a stomach issue. David Bote stepped in to play third base and Happ moved to the leadoff spot in the order.