The Cubs were swept by Milwaukee last weekend, making for a crowded race at the top of the NL Central. At Pittsburgh on Thursday, the left-hander looked to be almost back in form, tossing six innings and allowing one run and five hits.
"In my mind's eye, I'm just planning like he won't", manager Joe Maddon said.
Again, the expectations of the Cubs repeating what they accomplished a year ago is a ship that has long since left the shore and struck an iceberg. Chicago had scored only 16 runs in eight previous games - and eight of those runs came in one game at Pittsburgh when Lester was on the mound. Kyle Schwarber was 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two runs. In a season in which the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians have taken turns looking unbeatable, the Cubs, with a current record of 78-66, have looked just good enough to repeat as division winners, but nothing more.
It was the 15th home run he has allowed this season. Ben Zobrist was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and an RBI. Shortstop Addison Russell has been out since August 3 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and he isn't even running at full speed. He gave up one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks in six innings in an 8-2 win at the Pirates his last start. The team's 5.52 ERA on the month is fifth worst in the league, only surpassed by (again) the Dodgers, Giants, Braves and Mets, the latter of which they are preparing to do battle with in what could be a slugfest of epic proportions - if, you know, their offense was doing anything that could be considered inspirational in the least.
Rays 2, Yankees 1 • Adeiny Hechavarria hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning off Sonny Gray and Tampa Bay, playing as the home team in a series relocated to Citi Field because of Hurricane Irma, beat the New York Yankees.
NY recalled catcher Tomas Nido from Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday, but he didn't play. The 23-year-old hit.232 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 102 games with Binghamton.