New sire Justin Steele shakes off rust to deliver his fifth quality start, the best of the Chicago Cubs

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

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

“Becoming a father was so special,” Steele said Wednesday. “I cried loudly as soon as it happened. So ready to come home and love him.”

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

“I’ve definitely been putting my hand on her left hand, like, working with her, trying to get her used to it, but we’ll see how it goes,” Steele said with a smile. “Whatever he wants to do. He wouldn’t be mad at a shortstop.”

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

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

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“You look at his stuff and when he plays in the zone, there’s a lot of soft contact there,” manager David Ross said. “When he’s in the zone and keeping those hitters in the middle, you even saw it in the first couple of innings when he wasn’t that strong and he gave up a couple of hits, the 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 working in the first, needing 26 pitches to end the inning and giving up three runs. The game could have slipped away from Steele as four of the Orioles’ first five reached on one 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 final two outs of the first.

“I definitely needed to get some rust off,” Steele said. “But once I found my groove, it was nice.”

Despite the rough 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 early this season, a rough tackle early in a start could derail Steele’s exit and cut his day short. Ross believes that the 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 have an extra inning there to attack and get those weak balls to the left side. He did a really good job of coming together, figuring out what he needed to do better and getting back in the zone.”

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