CHICAGO — Jon Lester may be having the best season of his career and the timing couldn’t have been better for the Chicago Cubs.
While the starting rotation has experienced its share of issues and the Cubs have struggled to find consistency Jachai Polite Jersey , Lester has been more than steady. Lester takes a 10-2 mark into his 17th start of the season Sunday when the Cubs attempt to finish off a three-game sweep of the Minnesta Twins at Wrigley Field.
Lester has won six straight starts and allowed four runs in his five starts in June, which bodes well for a team that won its third straight game after Saturday’s 14-9 back-and-forth victory over the Twins.
Lester threw 119 pitches — a sign that at age 34 he has plenty of good work left in him — two starts back. He had thrown 106 pitches in six innings when manager Joe Maddon elected to keep Lester on the mound.
“At that point, what’s 15 or 20 more pitches,” Lester told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Said Maddon: “Jon gave what we needed.”
Lester has provided consistency while fellow starters Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood have struggled and Yu Darvish has battled injury. Lester will attempt to keep rolling Sunday against the Twins, against whom he is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 career starts.
The Twins continued to struggle Saturday and lost for the seventh time in their last nine games. For the second straight day, Minnesota blew leads as the Cubs rallied from behind twice before scoring five runs in the seventh inning to snap a 9-9 tie.
Minnesota’s bullpen allowed 10 runs and for the second straight day the Twins were unable to match the Cubs’ offense, which pounded out 20 hits on a day when the temperatures were in the 90s and the heat index registered 107 degrees.
The Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario, catcher Bobby Wilson and outfielder Max Kepler during the game to heat illness. Cubs’ center fielder Albert Almora Chuma Edoga Jersey , Jr. also left with cramping because of the conditions.
“When the conditions are like that, you do the best you can to prepare them with nutrition and hydration and all those things, but it overtook three of our guys today,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters. “So it was just tough.”
Twins right-hander Lance Lynn will take the mound against a team he is familiar with from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals. Lynn enters Sunday’s start with a 5-6 record and a 4.81 ERA. He allowed five runs (four earned) and struck out eight in his last start against the Chicago White Sox.
Lynn is 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) against the Cubs.
Lynn will try to bounce back from an outing in which he had a lead but couldn’t pitch out of trouble in his final inning.
“It’s frustrating, especially with the way things had been going all night. I had eight strikeouts in five and you’ve got 8-9 up, bases are loaded, even though it’s been kind of a funky inning, you want to have that chance,” Lynn told the team’s official website. “But with the way things had unfolded that inning, you get it. We’re trying to win the game.”
HOUSTON — Heralded outfield prospect Kyle Tucker made his big-league debut Saturday for the Astros Trevon Wesco Jersey , a move that not only has implications for Tucker but two other outfielders.
With Tucker, who finished 1-for-4 with a bases-loaded walk and three strikeouts in the Astros’ 12-6 win, in the fold, outfielder Tony Kemp will see a reduction in his playing time despite providing a spark for the Astros (60-31) since his mid-May recall. Kemp has a slash line of .295/.385/.410 over 40 games.
Outfielder Jake Marisnick, meanwhile, was optioned to Triple-A Fresno for a second time on the same night he delivered another sparkling play in center field.
Marisnick was batting .190 with 69 strikeouts in 163 plate appearances.
“It was hard for Jake, and it should be,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s had a roller-coaster season going up and down. The first go-round he was really needing to go correct some things. The second go-around he was doing a lot better and things were out of his control a little bit as to him going down to Triple-A. There are still some offensive adjustments we want him to make.
“(Kemp) came up and won the right to stay in the big leagues. When a transaction happens, we talk a lot about the guy we sent down but the guy that we kept earned the right to be here. I’m very proud of what Tony has contributed to this team, and it hasn’t always been fair to him the last couple of years.”
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (5-8 Shareef Miller Jersey , 4.12 ERA) will start the series finale against the White Sox. He has posted three quality starts in his last four outings, going 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts across 24 1/3 innings during that stretch.
Keuchel is 3-4 with a 3.81 ERA over eight career starts against the White Sox including a 10-1 win on April 21 when he worked six innings and allowed one run on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito (5-7, 6.93 ERA) gets the starting nod for Chicago (30-59). He is 2-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his last eight starts, allowing five runs or more four times.
Giolito will make his third career start against the Astros, against whom he is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA. He was charged with nine runs on five hits and seven walks opposite Keuchel on April 21 and suffered the loss in his previous appearance at Minute Maid Park on Sept. 19, 2017, when he allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk with three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 loss.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was back in the starting lineup Saturday and finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts after sitting out the previous game to manage the soreness in his left forearm. Anderson was hit by a pitch in Thursday’s series opener.
Anderson has become a fixture in the eight-hole when Chicago faces a right-handed starter, a move designed to help amplify the depth of the White Sox lineup and provide additional opportunities atop the batting order for fellow infielders Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez.
“If you look at the lineup it just lengthens out (and) allows us to put him and keep him there,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Anderson. “As long as he stays comfortable there he helps us there quite a bit. Picks up the back end of the lineup and I think we’ve gotten some benefits out of it.”
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