Cubs smack three homers in win over Royals
Allan Henry - USA Today Sports

Cubs smack three homers in win over Royals

by - Senior Writer -

MESA - It is not how you start spring training, but more so how you finish it. With only a pair of exhibition games remaining until the start of the 2023 regular season, the Cubs have started to play well again and have gotten hot at the right time.

A big reason for that has been the overall improvements of many of their players after they got off to slow starts this spring. One of those players is left-hander Justin Steele who picked an excellent time for his best spring outing. After being delayed by some arm fatigue towards the beginning of spring training, Steele struggled in his first few spring outings.

Backed by a trio of homers, and six strong innings, Steele put together his best start of the spring as the Cubs took down the Kansas City Royals 5-0. Across his last three starts, Steele had yet to make it out of the fourth inning, as the command and a high pitch count was the issue.

Sunday not only saw Steele get through six innings, but six scoreless innings as he scattered four hits to go with six strikeouts. He helped set the tone while the offense took care of the rest against Ryan Yarbrough and company. Yarbrough struggled to get through three innings, allowing three earned runs off a pair of homers. That is all the Cubs offense would need, as Steele and the rest of the Cubs pitching staff were brilliant.

Steele may have been solid, but he did have some trouble to work around in the first inning, with Samad Taylor picking up a one-out double. Steele responded by getting out of the inning unharmed, which was one of the best scoring opportunities the Royals had during the game.

After Yarbrough managed to match Steele with a scoreless first, the Cubs took the lead for good in the second with Patrick Wisdom unloading for the first of three Cubs homers.

That homer proved to be the game-winner as his impressive showing continues. One inning later saw the Cubs play long ball again, with Nico Hoerner keeping the inning alive with a single. That was followed by the Dansby Swanson homer as the Cubs extended their lead to 3-0.

This was a much-needed homer for Swanson, as his first spring with the Cubs has not gone as planned. Hopefully, this homer will jump start him for the start of the regular season later this week. With a comfortable lead in hand, Steele continued to do his thing on the mound, but once again had to work around a one-out double in the fourth off the bat of Nick Pratto.

Already with two homers and three runs across, the Cubs continued their assault on offense, making it three innings in a row with a run in the fourth. Wisdom found himself in the middle of it all with a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Cody Bellinger unloaded for yet another homer to make things 5-0 as he has gotten hot the final week-plus of spring.

Up to this point, the Royals had next to nothing going for them offensively, but it did appear they had something going in the fifth inning. One-out singles from Tucker Bradley and Freddie Fermin kept the pressure on Steele, only to see him bounce back to retire the next two hitters. He then retired the side in order in the sixth as he retired the final five hitters he faced to end his great start.

With Steele out of the game, it was up to the Cubs bullpen to hold the lead as Keegan Thompson was called on to pitch the seventh. Thompson had to work around a one-out error, and a single from Javier Vaz as the Royals had a pair of runners on base yet again. All that matters is that Thompson kept the Royals off the board, and he did just that with the Cubs still in front 5-0.

Thompson turned things over to Mark Leiter Jr and Tyler Duffey as both finished what Steele started and capped off the 5-0 shutout win. The win caps off the Cubs spring record with a 16-12-1 showing, as they have a pair of exhibition games remaining against the White Sox this week.

The Cubs only had five hits in the win, but they made them count, with three leaving the yard. Wisdom, Swanson, and Bellinger picked up the homers, with Hoerner and Nick Madrigal adding the other two hits. The Cubs staff combined to allow five hits while walking two and striking out eight.

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