Willson Contreras had another eventful day behind the plate.
He threw out two runners trying to steal second and also picked David Freese off first base in the seventh. He couldn’t keep his foot on home plate in the eighth on an attempted force when Pittsburgh took the lead, and was unable to stop Jason Heyward’s errant throw from getting away, letting another run score.
Perhaps most importantly, his working relationship with Jon Lester continued to grow.
“Right now I feel just good with him,” Contreras said Sunday after the Cubs lost 6-1 to the Pirates.
“We’ve been good.”
Lester threw seven scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 1.00. The veteran lefty, who had worked almost exclusively with the now-retired David Ross over the past two years, praised Contreras for his defense, how he’s handling the pitching staff as a whole, and the job he did to take Lester through a rough 24-pitch first inning and to another strong start.
“Willy’s fine. Willy’s done a really, really good job,” Lester said. “He’s still young. Our team is still young so we’re going to still have some growing pains here and there but since I’ve worked with him he’s done nothing but a really good job.”
Lester was asked how much work he and Contreras have done together between starts, and the answer was telling.
“Nothing,” Lester said. “He’s got other stuff to worry about than catching me.”
Lester said that during spring training the two talked a couple times and met with catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello, but the comfort comes from just working together in games.
“You can work on stuff in bullpens all you want but until you get into the fight it really doesn’t matter,” Lester said. “You’ve got to grow together and take that game plan into the start.”
The tight standings
Entering play Sunday, the Cardinals were the only National League team…