One down, ten to go.
Two years ago, the Giants made a huge push to sign Jon Lester. Depending on how you count it, the Giants offered more money than the Cubs did, although the number of years and California taxes make the actual issue of who offered more money more complicated. But Lester felt comfortable with the Theo Epstein braintrust that he knew from Boston and Chicago was just a lot closer to his Georgia home than San Francisco was.
Tonight, we know why both the Giants and the Cubs wanted Lester so badly. Jon Lester threw eight brilliant innings (with a lot of help from Grandpa David Ross) of five-hit, no-walks and no-runs baseball. Three of those five hits came to lead off each of the first three innings. But Gorkys Hernandez was thrown out by Ross trying to steal second base in the first inning and Conor Gillaspie was picked off first by Ross in the third inning.
The only time Lester was really in trouble was in the fourth inning, when Buster Posey singled with one out and Ben Zobrist misjudged a fly ball by Angel Pagan with two outs that went under his glove for a double. But Buster Posey, for as wonderful as he is, is still a catcher and only made it to third base on the double. It’s also not entirely clear he knew how many outs there were. Lester then got Brandon Crawford to ground out to end the threat. It was the last baserunner the Giants would get until two outs in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were stymied by Johnny Cueto. The Cubs didn’t even have a baserunner until Kris Bryant doubled with one out in the fourth inning. But that threat went nowhere and the two aces traded zeros until the eighth inning.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Cueto got one up to Javier Baez. Baez crushed it. The wind caught it. A ball that easily would have been on Waveland Avenue any other night had us all holding our breath. But the ball dropped into the left field basket and the Cubs had the only run of the game.
Joe Maddon’s no fool, so he turned over the ninth inning to Aroldis Chapman. Chapman struck out Hernandez on a check swing and got Eduardo Nunez to ground out to second base. But with two out in the inning, Buster Posey crushed a Chapman fastball to left-center field. But once again, the wind held up the ball and it bounced off the ivy for a double. Chapman then got Hunter Pence to ground out to second base to end the game and win a crucial game one.
Al Yellon will have a full recap in the morning. Meanwhile, fly the W, folks.