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Justin Steele dominates again and Nick Madrigal redeems himself after ‘bonehead’ mistake in Chicago Cubs’ 10-1 win

Nick Madrigal and Christopher Morel found themselves in manager David Ross’ doghouse Thursday night after head-scratching bunt attempts in the Chicago Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

But Ross doesn’t stay mad for long, as he explained Friday morning before a 10-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians.

“When the players mess up, there has to be a moment of learning and an expectation to be better,” Ross said. “If the pattern continues, then you have to do something about it. I have three kids, and when they mess up and they know the mess up and they’re already upset, I don’t think it betters the person in the learning experience by continuing to come down on them.”

Madrigal and Morel responded with sixth-inning home runs Friday as the Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak and helped the crosstown White Sox, who are chasing the Guardians in the American League Central.

Justin Steele threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, improving to 9-2 and reducing his National League-leading ERA to 2.43, likely sealing a spot on the All-Star team.

“Him and (Marcus Stroman) have been phenomenal,” Ross said. “If you’re talking about Stro in that context, Steele should be in the mix for sure.”

Before the game, Ross compared Steele’s stuff to Jon Lester. Coincidentally, Lester texted Ross last June with advice for Steele on locating his four-seam fastball — and it has all come together for the lefty since.

“It definitely helped me and got me moving in the right direction,” Steele said. “Something that is really big for me is always taking something from every person you encounter, to learn something whether it’s good or bad.”

Stroman, who left Sunday’s game in London in the fourth inning with a blister on his right index finger, will make his return to the mound Saturday night at Wrigley.

The only good news for Guardians (39-42) was manager Terry Francona’s return to the dugout. The 64-year-old said he felt better after going to the hospital for lightheadedness before Tuesday’s game in Kansas City. He did not manage in the series against the Royals and will undergo further tests next week in Cleveland.

“Like today, I feel (crummy), normal (crummy),” Francona told reporters before Friday’s game. “The last couple days, man, I was like, (shucks), my heart rate was high, my blood pressure was high. I’d be sitting here sweating. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that something’s not right.”

“Normal crummy” is a feeling Cubs fans are well acquainted with. And one that seeped in this week during a four-game losing streak after the team pulled to within one game of .500 in London. But the Cubs offense woke up against Guardians starter Cal Quantrill, who was shelled for six runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings.

Jared Young’s two-run triple in the four-run third, his second three-bagger in as many days, helped the Cubs pull away early. Madrigal’s solo home run in the sixth, only the third of his career, was his first since June 4, 2021, when he played for the White Sox.

The Cubs dugout went wild after Madrigal’s home run to the left field bleachers. His 368 at-bat homerless streak was the fourth-longest active streak in the majors.

“That was awesome,” Steele said. “We’ve been getting on him lately about hitting a homer. I’ve been telling him ‘the party’s out front’ and he’s been getting ahead out a little bit lately, starting the party out there.”

Madrigal appreciated the good-natured harassment, as well as the scene of his teammates celebrating the homer.

“That’s what makes special teams,” he said. “No matter who is doing well, everyone is excited on the bench. Watching the replay and seeing my team’s reaction, that means a lot.”

Madrigal’s bunt attempt Thursday came with a runner on third and two outs. Ross said afterward Madrigal forgot how many outs there were, and he let Madrigal know about it afterward.

“There is a baseline of expectations at the big league level,” Ross said Friday. “Knowing the outs is one of those. He knows that.”

Madrigal, who was unavailable to explain himself Thursday, said on Friday he put it behind him.

“I made a mistake and tried to turn the page as quickly as you can,” he said. “There’s no time to be sulking about anything, especially in the position we are in the division. It’s going to take all hands on deck.

“I took accountability. I messed up and told him that. Once I got to the field today, I was just focused on trying to help this team.”

Ross recalled a situation when he flipped a ball in the stands with two outs in a lopsided playoff loss to the New York Mets.

“We’ve all done it,” he said. “We’re all going to make bonehead mistakes.”

Ross admitted he was too quick to bench Javier Báez for making a similar mistake, and said he’s learned to be more patient after benching Báez and Kyle Schwarber early in his managerial career.

“Nick was probably embarrassed enough in his own right (Thursday),” Ross said. “Me compounding that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Ross paused a second before adding a qualifier.

“I’m not saying I won’t have a knee-jerk reaction in the future either,” he said with a grin.


Source: Berkshire mont

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