With early surprise Justin Steele back from injury and on the mound, the Cubs will aim for a season-high fifth consecutive victory on Saturday when they oppose the visiting Orioles in the middle game of a three-game series
Chicago totaled 32 runs and batted .181 during a 6-7 stretch, which featured a four-game losing streak, entering the current homestand. Then, the Cubs totaled 28 runs while sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they stayed hot with a 10-3 rout of the Orioles on Friday
Baltimore had scored 42 runs while winning six of its previous seven contests.
The hot streak has pulled the Cubs within five games of .500. In their past four games, they have scored 38 runs, collected 51 hits, batted .362 and put up at least four runs in an inning during each of those contests
"We lost a lot of games, but we can win a lot of games, too," Christopher Morel, who recorded his second straight three-hit game on Friday, told Marquee Sports Network. "We've won four games in a row, we (look) to win more."
Morel is 11-for-22 with three homers and 11 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak. Meanwhile, teammate Ian Happ is 6-for-13 with 10 RBIs in the past four.
Steele (6-2, 2.65 ERA) takes the ball for the first time since exiting his start against Tampa Bay on May 31 with a left forearm strain. Though the Cubs are winless in Steele's past four starts, the left-hander is one inning shy of ranking among the major league leaders in ERA, opponents' batting average (.228) and WHIP (1.06). He has eight quality starts
"He feels really good, and he's a key piece to us winning ballgames, our future, our success," Cubs manager David Ross said. "He's really important to have on the mound
"We're excited for him to be back (Saturday) and start for us."
Steele, who could be on a pitch count, faced Baltimore at home last July and allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits over six innings of a 7-1 Chicago loss.
The Orioles' Austin Hays went 2-for-3 against Steele. Hays is batting .333 (15-for-45) with eight RBIs in his past 11 games. Teammate Ryan O'Hearn, who had three hits on Friday, is 10-for-20 in his past five
Baltimore is 17 games over .500 but in danger of losing a second straight road series if it can't bounce back on Saturday.
"It happens, It's a crazy game. Things can kind of go sideways on you there," O'Hearn told MASN. "We'll forget about (Friday) ... and come back with a fresh perspective."
Scheduled Orioles starter Kyle Gibson (8-3, 3.90 ERA) has been strong lately, going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his past five starts. He yielded a two-run homer and one other run in 6 1/3 innings during an 11-3 home rout of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday
The right-hander has been even better in three road outings during that five-game stretch, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA. Gibson is 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA lifetime against the Cubs, but this will be his first appearance at Wrigley Field
Chicago's Dansby Swanson, batting .348 (8-for-23) in the past five games, has feasted off Gibson, going 8-for-11 with a homer, while teammate Yan Gomes is batting .406 (13-for-32) with two doubles and two homers against him.
--Field Level Media