Cubs executives bet on Jon Lester because they had so much inside information from their time together with the Boston Red Sox and believed he would age gracefully with his fluid left-handed delivery, imposing physical presence and competitive personality. The Cubs also went into it with their eyes wide open, knowing the history of nine-figure contracts for pitchers and how those megadeals usually lead to a crash. “I think it’s way too early to talk about that,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday at Miller Park, where Lester’s mysterious struggles overshadowed the beginning of a four-game showdown against the Milwaukee Brewers that could decide the National League Central race. The night before at Tropicana Field, Lester got rocked in an 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, leaving him with a 5.91 ERA in four September starts since coming off the disabled list.
BALTIMORE -- Roaring from behind and then finally winning in extra innings, the Boston Red Sox did more than merely maintain their lead in the AL East. They showed their mettle, a characteristic that should come in handy during the postseason. Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning, Mookie Betts had four RBIs and Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-8 Monday night for their ninth win in 12 games. Xander Bogaerts homered and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who remained three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East and reduced to four their magic number for clinching a playoff berth. Boston erased a five-run deficit with a six-run fifth inning and needed 10
Tim Beckham’s team faced off against the Rays (although Beckham wasn’t playing because he just had his wisdom teeth out), and Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Marc Topkin simply can’t let him go. Topkin cites Beckham’s overall performance (which has been good), and then argues against that being good by cherry-picking two different sets of arbitrary endpoints to show that Beckham, like all baseball players, has had both periods of good and bad production. Topkin appeals to the anonymous authority of “those who watch the Orioles regularly” (translation: his friend, a Baltimore beat reporter) to say that Beckham has had fielding lapses and baserunning errors. “We who watch the Rays regularly” have a pretty good idea what Beckham is, too.