After beating Brewers, Cubs have no complaints with Steele’s anger

Chicago Cubs’ Justin Steele pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Saturday, June 29, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

MILWAUKEE — The Cubs seemed to finally reach their breaking point Saturday when a botched rundown led to 2 runs scoring in the third inning.

As pitcher Justin Steele walked back into the dugout, he unloaded some frustration, probably to no one in particular, but his angry screams were very evident.

From there the Cubs beat the Brewers 5-3, thanks to a tiebreaking 2-run homer in the eighth inning by Ian Happ. It was Happ’s second late-game, go-ahead home run in the past three days.

While most Cubs fans were probably thinking, “It’s about time,” Steele expressed regrets about his emotional outburst.

“Personally, I should probably do a little bit better job of controlling my emotions on the field, in front of people and stuff; just for kids and families,” Steele said. “I’ve got a nephew that watches me pitch. We won the game, to me that’s what matters most.”

After a victory in Milwaukee, no one was going to criticize Steele for venting some anger, especially manager Craig Counsell.

“Anytime you say something from a good place, it’s welcome,” Counsell said. “It was an emotional inning. We played poorly that inning, we made some mistakes and he’s just voicing his emotion from a place of love.”

Steele might have had personal regrets, but he did agree with Counsell’s assessment.

“Yeah, I love every single person in that locker room,” Steele said. “I know how good we can be. It definitely comes from a good place.

“It comes from a place of love and passion, want to. I want to win baseball games. That’s what I show up every day to do.”

Happ may not have made it into the dugout from left field by the time Steele unloaded, but Happ expressed no hard feelings.

“Guy’s competing. He wants to win,” Happ said. “Frustrated with how he’s given up runs there in that situation and he’s giving everything he has out there. That’s raw emotion. I think everybody sees how much he cares, how much he wants to win baseball games.”

This all happened after the Brewers scored twice in the third inning to tie the score. With one out and a runner on second, Andruw Monasterio bounced a weak grounder back to Steele, who turned and caught baserunner Sal Frelick between second and third.

Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ, right, hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Saturday, June 29, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

The Cubs botched the rundown in a couple of ways. Nico Hoerner chased Frelick toward third base when he should have thrown the ball earlier and let Christopher Morel chase Frelick back to second, where Monasterio was already standing.

It still could have worked out, but when Hoerner threw the ball, Morel was several steps in front of third. The runner and ball arrived at the same time, Morel didn’t make the catch or tag and everyone was safe.

Brice Turang followed with a bunt that scored the runner from third. Steele was initially charged with an error, but the scoring was later changed to a bunt single. William Contreras followed with a bloop single to short center field to tie the score.

Steele came back to strike out both Christian Yelich and Willy Adames to end the inning. Without the botched rundown, the Brewers likely don’t score at all.

Give the Cubs some credit, though, they came back and successfully executed a rundown between third and home in the seventh inning. With the score tied and two outs, the Brewers had runners on first and third. Turang made a break for second base and intentionally got caught in a rundown.

Catcher Tomas Nido threw down to second, then the ball came back to the plate when Monasterio made a break from third. Eventually, pitcher Luke Little — one of the largest men in MLB at 6-foot-8 and roughly 250 pounds — aggressively tagged out Monasterio at the plate and let out a few screams when the play was over.

“To get a pickoff and basically get myself out of the inning without having to face a batter, it’s awesome,” Little said. “I’m going to get real hyped up real quick. I’m a very high intensity player.”

The Cubs came out swinging against Brewers starter Tobias Myers. Hoerner sent Myers’ first pitch into left field for a single. Michael Busch then hit the second pitch over the fence in center field for a 2-run homer.

Steele registered his fifth straight quality start but still doesn’t have a win on the season. Hector Neris put two runners on in the ninth but recorded his 100th save.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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