Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester hit the first home run of his career. If that was not enough, he also earned his 2000th career strikeout. It was his night.
After a lackluster first half of the season, the Chicago Cubs found themselves five and a half games behind in the National League Central. Their offense sputtered and the pitching was mediocre at best. However, after the All-Star Break, the Cubs have come out swinging. And pitching. That includes starting pitcher Jon Lester.
In the season’s first half, Lester went 5-6 with a 4.25 ERA. The second half is a different story. With three starts since the break, he’s gone 3-0 with an ERA of 2.05 and notched 20 strikeouts in 22 inning pitched.
Tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he stole the show. Entering the game, Lester only needed nine strikeouts to earn 2000 for his career. It only took four innings of work to reach that milestone. It game in his 339th career start.
But, wait! There is more!
That is right, friends. Jon Lester, the man who couldn’t hit to save his life when he first came to the National League, went opposite field for his first home run of his career. And it came off a team that is in the playoff chase.
For those that appreciate trivia, it is the second time in MLB history that a pitched tallied his 2000th strikeout and hit a home run. Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz did it as well.
For the Cubs, it is more than just a home run. It is a statement. The team is coming together at the right time and starting to put the rest of the league on notice. What looked like a team that would struggle all year is turning into a World Series contender.