Justin Steele’s start cut short by ‘frustrating thumb injury
Justin Steele seemingly was finding his groove — then the injury bug hit him.
Steele had allowed just 2 runs on 3 hits in 4 innings of work, which had him on pace for his best start since his first start of the season, when he came back out for the 5th inning.
As he was throwing his warm-up pitches, the medical staff and manager David Ross came onto the field to check on him. He left the game shortly after that with left thumb soreness and Michael Rucker pitched in relief of him. The Cubs fell to the Dodgers 7-1 in the series finale at Wrigley Field.
“Ball wasn’t going exactly where I was wanting it to, so Rossy came out and asked what was going on and I just told him I was dealing with some thumb soreness,” Steele, who’s thumb was wrapped heavily in the clubhouse after the game, said. “Obviously wanted to stay in and get through 5, 6 for the bullpen and stuff, but these things happen.”
He likened the pain to a jammed finger that is suffered in basketball or football.
“But obviously it wasn’t from a football or a basketball,” Steele said.
Steele began to feel the soreness in the 4th inning. He was feeling the ache on the back of his thumb when he gripped the slider and tried to power through it.
“It just kinda wasn’t getting better,” Steele admitted.
That 4th inning is when the command faltered a bit and when the Dodgers began to have some success off him.
Steele had 1-2-3 innings in the 1st and 2nd and worked around a leadoff single in the 3rd. but in the 4th he allowed a 1-out walk, then an infield single, a wild pitch and a walk before getting the second out on a sacrifice fly that drove in a run.
Then, Cody Bellinger hit an infield single to drive in a second run before Chris Taylor struck out. He needed just 35 pitches in those first three innings and then threw 34 in the 4th.
“I got out of that inning got back in the dugout and was just kind of like pop it, stretch it out, get it loose and it was just feeling stoved up and stuff when I was starting to throw the next inning,” Steele said.
It put a damper on an otherwise successful outing for the lefty, who was attacking the zone and having success against a very potent Dodger lineup through the first three innings.
“Obviously it’s frustrating when you’re pitching well,” Steele said. “You wanna stay out there as long as you possibly can when you have your stuff rolling, but this is baseball, these things happen, you just got to put it to bed and keep moving forward.”