Justin Steele has usually single-handedly saved the Chicago Cubs in video games during the last six months.
That has particularly been true currently. Five of his earlier six begins featured video games determined by two runs or fewer, all of which the Cubs received with Steele on the mound. So when the Arizona Diamondbacks tagged Steele for a pair of three-run house runs within the first and sixth innings to bookend his begin Friday, the Cubs wanted the offense to step up and assist him out.
Instead, the offense managed simply 5 base runners by the primary eight innings — 4 singles and a stroll — and did not have a runner advance previous first base. Although the Cubs confirmed life within the ninth behind house runs by Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel, the Diamondbacks closed it out at hand them a 6-4 loss.
The Diamondbacks clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker within the course of in opposition to the Cubs, who’ve misplaced 5 of six video games to Arizona throughout the final week. The Cubs (78-70) sit 1 1/2 video games forward of the Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, at present tied for the ultimate wild-card spot.
The Cubs solely maintain a tiebreaker benefit in opposition to the San Francisco Giants. A tied file with the Diamonbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds or Miami Marlins after the 162-game schedule is accomplished would arrange the Cubs to be sitting at house in October. The Cubs want to remain a sport forward of most of their pursuers, making Saturday evening’s matchup with the Diamondbacks significantly vital. A victory would guarantee they return to Chicago nonetheless forward of Arizona.
The Cubs hope the battle the offense confirmed within the ninth carries over.
“There’s going to be days like that,” Happ mentioned of the lineup’s struggles. “But the team’s pretty professional and come out tomorrow and swing the bats.”
Both of the Diamondbacks’ house runs got here with two outs. In the primary inning, Steele’s four-pitch stroll of Christian Walker put runners on the corners. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. didn’t miss Steele’s subsequent pitch, a slider within the backside third of the zone to attempt to get a first-pitch strike. Steele effectively rolled by the subsequent 4 innings. He thought he had good things all evening and felt Thursday’s off day gave his arm slightly additional oomph, touching 95 mph in the course of the outing.
The two errors to Gurriel and Alek Thomas, who crushed a first-pitch slider left down the center within the sixth, had been the distinction.
With solely 15 video games remaining, stress on the Cubs will solely mount in the event that they lose Saturday.
“We all believe in one another,” Steele mentioned. “We’re showing up each and every single day, putting our hats on and trying to win the ballgame that day. It’s what we’ve been doing all year and because of that, we find ourselves in a good situation. So we’ve just got to keep showing up and playing ball.”