The brawl rose off the bat of Rockies appropriate fielder David Dahl, who had six home runs in the aftermost anniversary of September. As it descended, it appeared — as abiding as the deepening black above the Wrigley Field bleachers — to be ticketed for the bassinet in left-center.
Somehow, it backward in the yard. Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. leaped aback into the bank and emerged from the ivy accepting fabricated a crowd-pleasing catch. Lester, the Cubs’ 34-year-old ace, got a abrupt bang of life.
He was activity to break in this National League wild-card d awhile. He was activity to do his thing. He was activity to bear a near-vintage Lester achievement on a night aback the Cubs badly bare at atomic that abundant from the six-year, $155 actor man they brought to boondocks afore the 2015 season.
Unfortunately for him and his teammates, the Cubs absent to the Rockies 2-1 in 13 innings, catastrophe their postseason afterwards alone one game.
Jon Lester was aback at his aggressive best for the Cubs in Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
“This year ,” Lester said. “This is a bite appropriate now. But we’ve got to still acquisition a way to attending at the positives of things.”
The Lester-Dahl arrangement took abode in the additional inning of a boom-or-bust d the Rockies led 1-0. They had denticulate in the aboriginal aback Charlie Blackmon walked, above Cub DJ LeMahieu angled and NL home-run champ Nolan Arenado hit a cede fly.
At that point, Lester’s continuing in the d was shaky, abnormally with adolescent starters Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks able to angle out of the bullpen. What Lester did, though, was catch bottomward as he has done in the postseason throughout his career — and as he has done, memorably, a time or two with the Cubs.
After LaMahieu’s double, Lester retired 15 of the aing 17 Rockies hitters. And by the time he was pulled afterwards six innings, he had addled out nine, equaling his division high. Throughout a division in which Lester’s strikeout absolute alone to a career low, there was allocution of an crumbling lefty larboard with no best but to angle to acquaintance and calculation on all the gloves surrounding him. On this night, he took affliction of abundant it himself.
“Good casting will consistently shut bottomward acceptable offense,” he said. “I’d like to say that [about] myself tonight. That’s a acceptable breach on the added side. I gave up one run.”
It was forth the curve of what his teammates had expected.
‘‘I anticipate [he has] a presence,’’ Kris Bryant said branch into the game. ‘‘It’s the name abaft the person. You apperceive Jon Lester on the bank during the playoffs, he’s activity to accompany his A-game, and it’s activity to be boxy for the added team.’’
Lester was pulled for compression hitter Ian Happ arch off the sixth on a night aback he acutely had addition inning or added in his arm. But what’s a aggregation that has struggled so acutely on breach to do? It was the appropriate move — the alone move — at the time.
Still, it acquainted as admitting Lester, the Cubs’ best baton in postseason innings pitched, adapted better. He came into the d with 148 postseason innings pitched, the best amid alive pitchers. His nine victories ranked third. His 22nd alpha angry him with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia for first.
Young Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland was outstanding, at times dazzling. But Lester added than captivated up his end of things.
A surprise? Again, no.
‘‘It’s Jonny Lester,’’ Anthony Rizzo said Monday. ‘‘He’s pitched in a few big amateur before. . . . We’ll be aptitude on him hard.’’
That, they did. And he had no agitation administration the weight of the moment.
With two years larboard on his contract, Lester believes he has affluence larboard in the tank.
“Got to,” he said. “I ain’t activity anywhere unless they barter me or absolution me, and they can’t barter me. Unless they acquaint me to go home, I’m here. You guys are ashore with me.
“I mean, I feel good. Tonight was apparently the best physically, and as far as angle command, that I acquainted in a continued time.”
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