New dad Justin Steele shakes off rust to deliver his 5th quality start, tops on the Chicago Cubs – The Denver Post


Chicago Cubs left-hander Justin Steele needed few words to describe an unforgettable week.

The birth Monday of his first child, a son named Beau, coincided with Steele’s 27th birthday and kicked off a whirlwind from the hospital room to the mound at Wrigley Field over a 72-hour stretch he called “the best in my life.”

“Becoming a dad was just so special,” Steele said Wednesday. “I bawled my eyes out as soon as it happened. So ready to get back home and love on him.”

Steele tried to stay ready for Wednesday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles by working out in the weight room and throwing into a net at Wrigley while the team was in Los Angeles over the weekend. He sneaked in a pre-start nap after bringing Beau home from the hospital Wednesday morning, already bonding over baseball.

“I’ve definitely been putting my hand in his left hand, like, working around with it, trying to get him used to it, but we’ll see how it goes,” a smiling Steele said. “Whatever he wants to do. Wouldn’t be mad at a shortstop.”

In his last start before the All-Star break, Steele allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings for his team-leading fifth quality start of the season in the Cubs’ 7-1 loss to the Orioles. The Cubs have dropped six straight and eight of 10.

Steele retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced after Trey Mancini’s double in the second.

“You look at his stuff and when it plays in the zone, there’s a lot of soft contact in there,” manager David Ross said. “When he’s in the zone and keeping those hitters in between, you even saw in the first couple innings when he wasn’t quite as sharp and gave up a couple of hits, balls weren’t hit too hard. … When he’s in the zone and attacking the zone, he’s really hard to hit.”

Steele bounced back after laboring through the first, needing 26 pitches to finish the inning and allowing three runs. The game could have gotten away from Steele as four of the first five Orioles reached base on a hit. One of the runs scored on a one-out fielding error by left fielder Ian Happ on a single.

But Steele refocused and needed just five more pitches to record the last two outs of the first.

“Definitely needed to knock some rust off,” Steele said. “But once I kind of found my groove, it was nice.”

Despite the rocky inning, Steele regrouped and held the Orioles to one run over the next five innings. He relied on his defense, striking out three and walking one.

At times last year and earlier this season, a rough inning early in a start could derail Steele’s outing and cut his day short. Ross believes that area of improvement indicates growth and maturity.

“That’s an aggressive team,” Ross said. “I thought we were only going to get maybe four, maybe five innings out of him, and we get an extra inning there to attack and get those weak ground balls to the left side. He did a really nice job of gathering himself, figuring out what he needed to do better and getting back in the zone.”



Source link