Left-hander Justin Steele’s scheduled start Wednesday in St. Louis was postponed by rain. Instead of pitching one end or the other of the doubleheader on Thursday against the Cardinals, he zipped home for some extra shut-eye before taking the mound Friday in the Cubs’ 2-1 victory against the Marlins at Wrigley Field.
Good move for a guy who became a first-time father July 11. A little time with son Beau was wonderful, and did we mention the extra sleep?
“I don’t know which one I benefitted more from,” he said after throwing 4⅔ scoreless innings and tying a career high with 10 strikeouts, “but both of them were really nice.”
Steele has a 1.74 ERA in his last six starts and has allowed one earned run or fewer in the last three. His combination of a four-seam fastball and a slider was at its season peak in this one, he said.
There is little choice but to believe the man, considering he is now one of only two Cubs starting pitchers to have double-digit strikeouts in less than five innings pitched. The first was Bill Caudill in 1979. Even more impressive, Steele is the second starter in major-league history to allow zero runs while striking out 10 in less than five innings. But you probably knew these things already.
Nick of time
Second baseman Nick Madrigal, playing in only his second game since June 10 after a long comeback from a groin injury, had the Cubs’ first hit in the sixth inning and their second in the eighth, setting the table for Willson Contreras’ go-ahead home run.
“I know it’s only been two games,” he said, “but so far I feel like I’m taking pitches that are borderline, and, overall, the game seems a lot slower at the moment. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
This and that
Outfielder Ian Happ hit a ground-rule double into foul territory in the eighth, making him only the fourth switch hitter to have at least 100 doubles as a Cub. He joins Don Kessinger, Augie Galan and Walt Wilmot, but, again, you probably knew that already.
• Cubs pitchers have a 2.53 ERA over the last 16 games, the lowest in baseball in that span. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?
• Manager David Ross did not have a positive update on right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who has been on the injured list since July 6 with a shoulder strain, or outfielder Jason Heyward, who has been on the injured list since June 27 with knee troubles.
Might either or both of them miss the rest of the season?
“I hope not, to be honest with you,” Ross said. “I know these guys work really hard, and they pride themselves on being out there with the guys.”