Back in 2014, when the Chicago Cubs were trying to woo free agent Jon Lester, general manager Jed Hoyer had a bit of a cheeky idea for their meeting with the top-end pitcher. He worked up a mock Wrigley Field scoreboard and placed Lester’s career batting stats on it to prove that Lester would be just fine switching from a league with a designated hitter to one where he’d have to bat for himself.
There was just one problem: at the time, Lester hadn’t earned a Major League hit. He was 0-for-36. A pristine .000 batting average stared back at the prized lefty as the Cubs attempted to convince him to come to Chicago.
Lester laughed at the stunt. It was all in good fun, after all. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t want to raise his average. And there’s certainly no way he forgot about the Cubs’ teasing.
Maybe that’s why after demolishing a two-seam fastball from Minnesota’s Lance Lynn for a three-run homer on Sunday, he took an extra second to admire his work before it landed in the bleachers.
— MLB (@MLB) July 1, 2018
Lester might’ve kept his head down and ran the bases in a timely manner, but the crowd at Wrigley Field wouldn’t let him escape the moment that easily. They demanded a curtain call and Lester quickly obliged.
The 406-foot blast is only the second home run in Lester’s career. His first came last August against the Diamondbacks and landed in the same area in left field. Yes, the man who didn’t have a hit in his first 36 at-bats now has a designated landing zone in the Wrigley bleachers.
And, yes, the wind was blowing out on Sunday.
That doesn’t take away from any of the magic that is Jon Lester at the plate. His slash line is now up to petrifying .143 on the season and his career slash line now reads .090/.138/.127 with 20 RBI and one stolen base.
That’s the type of offensive machine you can only buy for $155 million.
Jon Lester (34 years, 175 days): oldest #Cubs pitcher to homer in a game since David Ross (who entered the game as a pitcher) at 38 years, 129 days on 7/26/2015
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 1, 2018
In all seriousness, it’s these types of moments that make baseball fans go wild. Even when pilling up on an opponent — the Cubs scored eight runs in the second inning against the Twins — you never expect a guy like Lester to crank one out of the park. When he does it feel every bit as magical as any other single game achievement.
Put that on the scoreboard, Jed.
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