When I first started following baseball, back in the day, the two Chicago teams were known, in particular, for specific playing styles. The Cubs were a power-hitting team, and the White Sox were a pitching-rich ballclub. The Sox, in fact, spent the first seven decades of their history without a 30-homer season by anyone, the last of the “Original 16” teams without one, until Bill Melton hit 33 in 1970. Cubs hitters had 26 30-homer seasons before Melton’s broke the Sox drought.
It seemed as if the Sox were trying to make up that deficit all in one game Friday night at Wrigley Field, as they smashed six home runs en route to a 10-1 dismantling of the Cubs. It was the first time an opponent had hit six home runs at Wrigley Field in more than 10 years, since the Reds did it July 4, 2010 in a 14-3 blowout.
I mean, I really could just finish here and post Saturday’s game info, but you came here for a recap, and by gum you are going to get one.
Jon Lester just didn’t have it Friday night. There’s not that much more to be said about his outing by me, so I’ll give you Jon’s words instead:
Jon Lester:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 22, 2020
"Last start I thought I threw the ball better than what the line score showed. This one, I can't run from the line score. I mean, this was terrible."
Said he missed location and added that his cutter has "abandoned" him the last couple turns.
Here’s Jon Lester, on the White Sox lineup... pic.twitter.com/VmVgG45rCu— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 22, 2020
He’s right about all of it. All he and the Cubs can do is put this one aside — despite the score, it counts as only one loss — and pick up and try to do better Saturday night.
As noted by Lester, Dallas Keuchel was dealing. He retired the first 11 Cubs until Javier Baez singled with two out in the fourth.
David Ross started emptying his bench in the fifth, removing Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras from the game. He’s done this in 25 games as manager a couple of times and it feels as if he’s more willing to do this than Joe Maddon was. I think it was a wise thing to do in a blowout.
The Cubs briefly, just briefly, opened the door to a comeback with the score 8-0 in the sixth. They loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and an error and... well, 8-0 isn’t insurmountable, but the Cubs didn’t surmount it. Nico Hoerner popped up and Javy hit into a double play and frankly, Javy looks just terrible. He made a throwing error on a ball he probably should have just eaten and over his last 11 games he’s hitting .105/.171/.158 (4-for-38) with 17 strikeouts. He doesn’t appear injured, but he looks totally lost at the plate. Another day off might help him, because he’s now at 100 plate appearances for this season and that’s getting to be not a small sample size.
Here, have a highlight. After Victor Caratini doubled and Albert Almora Jr. singled in the seventh, Hoerner ruined Keuchel’s shutout bid [VIDEO].
(Note to those who have had issues viewing videos here in Chrome or other browsers: I’ve tried something different in this recap, please let me know if it helped.)
The Cubs loaded the bases again in that inning when Jason Kipnis walked, but it ended with a fly ball by Josh Phegley.
So you probably don’t really need to know this, but it’s out there so I am providing it to you:
Jon Lester allowed 4 HR tonight to the White Sox.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) August 22, 2020
That's tied for the most in any game of his career.
He allowed 4 HR to the Blue Jays as a member of the Red Sox on July 22, 2012.
HR to: Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, Rajai Davis, Travis Snider
One small silver lining in this awful game: The bullpen threw 5⅓ innings, allowed three hits and two runs, walked one and struck out nine. So, yay?
A note on the broadcast: Jim Deshaies missed the game (and apparently will miss Saturday’s as well) due to an unspecified knee injury he suffered playing golf. Ryan Dempster filled in, and Demp did a fine job. His pitching analysis is spot-on and as the game went on his sense of humor started to shine through. I agree with this take from earlier this week:
I know I wrote the Cubs should get rid of the third host, but I think Dempster adds some value. He could easily be a regular color guy on TV or radio. (JD is obviously much better and should never leave.)— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) August 18, 2020
That said, Sean Marshall also joined the booth as the “third host” and Jon Greenberg is also right about that. Marquee should get rid of that “third host.” It’s not that Marshall was bad — he wasn’t — but there’s never enough time for three people to talk cogently about a sports event. This is the case for national games, where networks keep insisting on foisting three voices on us, and it’s certainly the case for local events. If Marquee needs to fill in for JD, one fill-in is enough.
Weird fact: In the Cubs’ 16 wins they have outscored their opponents 86-39. In their nine losses they’ve been outscored 71-30.
The Cubs maintained their four-game lead in the NL Central as the Brewers and Cardinals also both lost Friday evening. We are almost halfway through this 60-game season and jockeying for seeding in the 16-team playoff field will begin to happen soon.
The series with the White Sox continues Saturday evening at Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Reynaldo Lopez will make his season debut starting for the Sox, though it seems possible he’ll be an “opener” and someone else (Gio Gonzalez, perhaps) will take over. Game time is 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and also on NBC Sports Chicago with the Sox announcers).