By Bruce Levine–
(CBS) Cubs left-hander Jon Lester is one of the most accomplished postseason pitchers of the last decade. He enters his Game 1 start against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series on Saturday with the fifth-most postseason outings by an active pitcher, and he’s compiled a 2.63 ERA in 106 innings in the playoffs.
For the second time in a week, Lester on Friday was having none of the talk about curses accompanying the Cubs’ championship drought that dates back to 1908.
“Everybody just seems to wait for something (bad) to happen,” Lester said. “They should sit back and enjoy the game and see what happens. You turned around in the ninth inning and looked at some Cub fans in San Francisco in (Game 4) — there were a lot of long faces. Nobody n that dugout was ready to give up yet. We just kept grinding. As a fan, you just have to grind along.
“Things are going to happen. That is just baseball. That doesn’t mean it’s a curse, black cat or a goat. It is just making a physical mistake. We will move on to the next moment. You need to stay in the moment and enjoy where we are at. Let’s see where it takes us.”
A Cy Young candidate, Lester went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA. In his first 13 starts after the All-Star break, he went 10-0 with a 1.34 ERA.
Once again, Lester pointed to personal catcher David Ross for helping him out and being the heart and soul of the Cubs for the past two seasons.
“He is the heartbeat of our clubhouse,” Lester said. “He keeps both the young guys and us older guys in check. He can communicate with everybody. He is good a relaying information to the front office. He really does it all.”
The Dodgers were last in the league in OPS against left-handers, a weakness of their. One of the left-handers Lester will face is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who he played with in Boston.
“He is obviously a big part of that lineup,” Lester said. “He has been for awhile. You really have to be careful with a guy like that. One swing and one at-bat can change his whole series around. I know how quick he can get hot. That is a guy you really don’t wan to get hot. Being left-handed, he adds more dimensions to that lineup.”
Lester is thrilled to start Game 1. He won an intense NLDS opener against the Giants and Johnny Cueto, going eight shutout innings in giving up just five hits.
“It’s a great honor,” Lester said. “That is especially true with the great staff we have. To get picked to go number one, that is really cool. I think our staff has been really so good that if you put all of our names in a hat and pulled one out, you really could not go wrong. We know this will be a long series. Hopefully we can get it going in the right direction.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.