After playing against each other 2,344 times in the regular season, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will meet for the first time in the postseason later this afternoon. And like the familiar foes of their respective teams, the two starting pitchers also know each other very well.

Get The Latest News!

Don't miss our top stories and need-to-know news everyday in your inbox.

“That’s my boy, yeah,” smiled John Lackey when asked about pitching against Jon Lester. ” I have nothing but respect for him. I mean, me and him are going to be friends long after this thing’s over, and he’s my boy. Wish him nothing but the best, but I’m going to try to get after him tomorrow and I expect nothing but the same from him. I know he’s going to be ready to go. It’s going to be a challenge.”

“I mean it’s awesome,” agreed Lester, who was surprised he was not facing Michael Wacha. “It’s not too often you get to be in a situation like this to go against one of your better friends. You know, obviously I know Lack, played with him for a while, played against him for a while. We’ve done this before, before I got to play with him in Boston. He’s just such a good competitor, you know. He’s going to almost outwill you sometimes, if that makes sense. I learned a lot from him in Boston.

“You know, like you said, our friendship will go beyond this game, it will go beyond our careers, and it’s something that means a lot to me. But you know, come tomorrow, we’re not buddies anymore. We gotta go to battle and try to beat one another. So he’s already one up on me this year, so hopefully I can get back to even tomorrow with him. But it’ll just be a fun game. It just adds a little bit more to the excitement, and obviously on a personal level. So it’ll be fun.”

Both Lackey and Lester are regarded as “big game” pitchers, but bonded over more than just their approach on the field.

Article continues after sponsor message

“Country stuff probably,” shrugged Lackey, who was then asked to elaborate. “Country music, hunting, trucks–you know, stuff like that.”

As David Allen Coe would note, it was almost the perfect country song. But verse aside, the two pitchers also share a common trait of not being afraid to come inside.

“I don’t see it as a problem,” said Lester when asked about the tensions between the two clubs over hit batsmen in the final regular season series. “I would hope it’s not a problem. Like you said, I’m going to pitch my game. I know Lack’s going to pitch his game. I know whoever pitches tomorrow for them, whoever pitches tomorrow for us — or the next day is going to do the same thing. So I don’t think we can really worry about what happened in the regular season.”

“I think everybody even on their side knows I’m not going to back off coming inside,” confirmed Lackey. “I think I’ve got enough reputation, they know what time it is.”

“This is a different time,” added Lester.  “You can’t allow — you can’t allow bad blood to boil over here and allow free base runners, you know. The playoffs are too important to give guys free bases. You gotta make them earn it. Now, with that being said, like you just said I pitch inside. I throw a cutter to a lot of these righties, and I mean I’ve yanked a few before in my career. It happens, but it’s not the intent by any means. I would hope not. I would hope we could go out and just play a good clean five games and see who comes out on top at the end.”

photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI

More like this:

Feb 27, 2024 - Dave Lipe Recognized After 60 Seasons of Tennis in Edwardsville

Feb 8, 2024 - Brighton Bull Rider/Cancer Patient Treated At OSF In Alton, Still Pushes Self To Limit

3 days ago - Chef and Restauranteur Talk Food Insecurity and Building Alton's Culinary Scene Through Flock

Feb 18, 2024 - Mississippi Mass Choir to Perform in Godfrey

Feb 13, 2024 - Difference Maker: Man Inspires Teens With His Special Dinner Treat After Chiefs' Super Bowl Win