John Lackey beat the Cubs in Game One of the NLDS.
Don’t get it twisted.
Maybe it felt like Jon Lester let you down, he didn’t let the Cubs down. He kept the ball game close until his final batter. Even then, after giving up the final two earned runs of his night, he still kept the game close (be definition a quality start). It’s not Lester’s fault the offense mounted almost nothing against Lackey.
Phil Cuzzi didn’t ruin the Cubs night from his spot behind home plate. Checking his game against MLB.com’s stat cast and BrooksBaseball.net (both highly reputable sources for pitch/fx data, it seems Cuzzi had a pretty decent night calling balls and strikes. Did he miss some? Sure. They all do. And Yadier Molina is as good as it gets framing strikes. David Ross is pretty good too and he bought some calls for Lester.
Game one comes down on the offense. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to be precise. Sure it’s just two games but neither has a hit in the post season yet. Only Bryant has reached–a walk in the Wild Card game.
Kyle Hendricks will assuredly need more than one run to win Game Two. The Cubs know this. The pressure builds in the playoffs but especially when you’re pointing at a starter and hoping for the best rather than knowing, as in the case of Lester and Arrieta, that you’re going to be kept in the ballgame.
Fortunately, St. Louis will hope a bit with their Game Two starter as well. Garcia had a good season–if marred by injury–but didn’t pitch all that well in the final nine starts or so. He held a 3.58 ERA in that stretch but managed to limit his opponents slugging percentage to .344.
The Cubs will need to pump a little power into the lineup in order to split in St. Louis and bring things back to Chicago tied.