Lefty Justin Steele confident, bats hot as Cubs beat Dodgers in series opener

Catcher Yan Gomes hit two home runs in the Cubs’ 8-2 win.

SHARE Lefty Justin Steele confident, bats hot as Cubs beat Dodgers in series opener
Cubs starter Justin Steele held the Dodgers to two runs through seven innings on Friday.

Cubs starter Justin Steele held the Dodgers to two runs through seven innings on Friday.

AP Photos

LOS ANGELES – After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in seven innings Friday, Cubs left-hander Justin Steele agreed that this is as confident as he’s ever felt on the mound.

“Anytime you pitch against the Dodgers and you’re feeling good, throwing well, it’s always a plus,” Steele said. “They have a really good lineup.”

Leaning on his four-seam fastball and slider, Steele recorded eight strikeouts. The only runs he surrendered were a pair of solo home runs.

“Steely looked phenomenal, really pounded the zone,” manager David Ross said. “Thought he was dominant. Couple home runs, obviously, but when you fill up a zone like that against a good lineup, you’re going to give up some every once in a while.”

Last season was Steele’s first as a full-time member of the rotation, and he made developmental strides. This year, he’s picked up right where he left off, which has been especially helpful for a team built on run prevention. All three of Steele’s outings this season have been quality starts.

Steele cruised through the first two innings Friday, undeterred by third baseman Patrick Wisdom’s fielding error in the second, which resulted in the Dodgers’ first base runner of the game. Steele induced another ground ball to get out of that inning.

Steele gave up a leadoff homer to Chris Taylor to open the third inning and then walked Austin Barnes. But he recovered as the Dodgers’ lineup turned over, getting Mookie Betts to roll over a slider for a double play.

Steele didn’t allow another run until the seventh, when Max Muncy led off the inning with a solo shot. But the Cubs already had three runs on the board, and Steele retired the next three batters he faced.

“It was just sticking to my strengths,” Steele said. “I felt like I was locating my four-seamer really well tonight. Even from the bullpen leading into the game, I felt like I was commanding all my pitches, throwing what I wanted, when I wanted, whatever count.”

Going, going, gone

The Cubs entered play Friday with just 10 home runs this season, good for No. 27 in MLB. They tacked on five more in the series opener.

Two homers came from Yan Gomes, who became the 10th catcher in the modern era to hit multiple home runs and steal a base in a game.

“That was the Yan Gomes game, right there,” Steele said.

The Cubs’ other three long balls all came in the eighth inning. Ian Happ, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, led off the inning with a solo shot.

“Watching Happ hit that homer, it’s obviously good on him, but I wanted to do the same thing,” Seiya Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita.

Suzuki, batting cleanup behind Happ, did follow suit. It was his first game back from the injured list (strained left oblique), and his first hit of the season was a home run.

Two batters later, Wisdom also launched one over the fence.

The Latest
“We’re kind of living through Grae right now,” Kessinger told the Sun-Times. “I’m more excited and nervous watching him play than I was when I broke in.”
The 59-year-old was found about 7 p.m. in the 6700 block of South Chappel Avenue with a gunshot wound to his abdomen, police said.
Jonathan Vallejo, 38, of River Grove, suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the Friday shooting and was pronounced dead at Lutheran General Hospital, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Brian Boomsma of Dutch Farms in Pullman and Hoffmann Family of Cos. in Winnetka made two separate offers to buy Oberweis Dairy.