The suggestion came from the on-deck circle.
“Breathe and take your time.”
The message to Willson Contreras’s rookie Christopher Morel was needed at the very moment after lagging behind 0-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. Moreras instructed Contreras to keep his approach and did it in a focused manner — just put the ball into play.
Two pitches later, Morel connected to Milwaukee Brewers’ relief Hoby Milner’s low and away change-up and lofted to the left fielder. Morel hit it deep enough to win Jason Heyward from third base for a walk-off sacrifice fly with a 4-3 victory.
“This moment is great for me,” Morel said. “We are working for this moment.”
Morel wasn’t sticking to whether Hayward hit the ball far enough to score against Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich.
“Hayward is a good runner, so I trust him at this moment,” Morel said with a laugh.
Morel continues to be the highlight of the overwhelming start of the Cubs season. He began his franchise’s record career and played 15 games in his first inning.
“He came for us in different ways for some time,” said manager David Ross. “He’s one of those who can’t wait for him to stand up. The top of the lineup has turned over and he’s the spark.”
Morel, who was stolen third during the inning, brought the Cubs’ first run. His aggression caused Milwaukee catcher Omar Narvaez to throw the ball. According to team historian Ed Heartig, the Cubs’ 12 games with at least one stolen base are the longest games on the team since they recorded 14 stolen bases in a row in 1986. Morel has stolen six bases in the last 13 games.
Morel’s infectious energy has been constant since his call last month.
“I love baseball,” Morel said. “God gives me these moments, so I have to give everything every time I go to the field …. I give everything to the team.”
Morel’s stealing play paid off, but the Cubs’ aggression at the base almost sacrificed them in victory. They committed 3 outs on the base: Contreras was thrown in an attempt to steal an additional base in the 3rd and finished the 5th.
“They will have such a day,” Ross said. “We need to take risks and push the limits … the small places we have access to pay huge dividends.
“I love taking risks the moment I take them. I keep learning from mistakes in areas that need improvement.”
The bullpen gave the Cubs a shot to bring out the victory. He combined 5 reliefs and threw 5 innings, allowing only 2 hits, 1 walk and 10 strikeouts. Mark Leiter Jr. stranded Brewers’ automatic runners on third base following a wild pitch. He won the Major League Baseball for the first time since 2017.
Kyle Hendricks made 5 innings and abandoned 3 runs.
“If you have a man who brings positive energy and smiles on his face every day, it’s infectious,” Hendrix said of Morel. “It pervades everyone in the clubhouse. Everyone gets and supplies his energy.”
Christopher Morel continues to be the highlight of the Chicago Cubs, winning against Milwaukee Brewers – Reading Eagle
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