Lester frustrated by recent flurry of home runs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester leaves a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester leaves a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 8/21/2020 11:03 PM

It is possible to keep White Sox hitters inside the ballpark.

Dylan Winkler did it. Although he only faced four batters. And Kyle Ryan made it through one inning without denting the bleachers.

 

But that was the extent of any good news for the Cubs on Friday night. In a 10-1 loss at Wrigley Field, starting pitcher Jon Lester retired the side in order in the first inning. Then he gave up 4 home runs before the fourth inning was over.

The White Sox clobbered 6 home runs total, and all of them were no-doubters that might have cleared the ivy even with the wind blowing in.

"Just too many hard-hit balls," Lester said after the game. "I find it fascinating that I've given up all but one run on homers this year. So obviously need to fix that, and if I start keeping the ball in the ballpark, maybe I'll pitch a little better."

Lester gave up 2-run and 3-run homers to the Brewers in a loss last Sunday. In his first 3 starts, Lester gave up 1 run or fewer.

"You're giving up 2- and 3-run homers. It's hard to come back from that," Lester said. "It's not like I'm killing myself. I'm not walking people, I'm not doing stupid things to get guys on base. They're earning it, at least. I'm giving up hits to get guys on base, then obviously giving up the big one. I need to minimize the big one.

"I think last start I felt I threw the ball better than the linescore showed. This one I can't run from the linescore. This was terrible. Missed a lot of locations. I had no cutter tonight for whatever reason. It's kind of abandoned me the last couple starts. So I would like to get that back. I think I gave up a hard-hit ball on just about every one of my pitches. I need to tighten that up."

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Lester made no excuses, but he was a little frustrated that he couldn't get right to work studying what went wrong.

"I don't know if I'm coming out of my delivery and showing the ball a little bit too early or if I'm just making that many mistakes, I don't know," he said. "I'll watch it tomorrow.

"You can't really analyze anything during the game because of all this Houston (sign-stealing) stuff we've got to deal with not being able to get on any computers or anything. I can't really give you a definite answer tonight. I would have liked to. But tomorrow, I'll dive into it."

This weekend will definitely be a test for the Cubs, with their two best starters, Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, scheduled to take the mound the next two days.

Cubs manager David Ross gave a preview of what was in store before the game.

"They've got a ton of slug up and down the lineup," he said. "It's a big-swing, homer team that can burn you at any minute. It's just about playing our brand of baseball, going out there and executing pitches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"With a lot of big home run power comes big holes at times, and it's our job to exploit those holes and get a little swing and miss."

There wasn't much miss in the White Sox this night. Ross conceded early, pulling Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras out of the game in the fifth inning, in favor of Nico Hoerner and Josh Phegley.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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