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Cubs 4, Brewers 3: Christopher Morel’s sac fly walks it off

It had been quite a while since the Cubs’ last walkoff win.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday afternoon, I asked this question here: “What should the Cubs do with Jason Heyward?”

Their answer was: “Activate him!” Heyward went 1-for-4 and scored the winning run in the 10th inning as the Cubs defeated the Brewers 4-3, earning a split of their four-game series.

This game started well for the Cubs. After a scoreless top of the first by Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs got a leadoff walk from Christopher Morel, who thus extended his club-record on-base streak to start a career to 15 games:

Morel advanced to second on a single by Willson Contreras and then this happened [VIDEO].

The Cubs have been aggressive on the basepaths lately and this time it paid off. Morel and Contreras attempted a double steal and when Omar Narvaez’ throw went into left field, Morel scored and Contreras took third.

Ian Happ followed with a walk. This double play ball by Patrick Wisdom then made it 2-0 Cubs [VIDEO].

The Brewers scored one in the third, one in the fourth and one in the fifth off Hendricks to take the lead. I didn’t think Hendricks pitched badly in any of those innings, either. It might have been more runs, but after a run scored on a Narvaez single in the fourth, Narvaez was then thrown out trying to advance to second to end the inning [VIDEO].

So the Brewers took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth, and the Cubs knotted the game up. Heyward looped a single to left and took second on a groundout by Nick Madrigal. One out later, Contreras singled him in [VIDEO].

Remember above when I said the Cubs had been aggressive on the basepaths recently? This was not smart aggressiveness, Contreras trying to take third on a wild throw to the plate when Heyward scored. If Contreras had held at second, he’s still in scoring position with two out and Ian Happ coming up. Instead, the inning was over.

The Cubs bullpen did an excellent job in this game. Daniel Norris, Michael Rucker, Rowan Wick, David Robertson and Mark Leiter Jr. threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out 10. Only two Brewers hitters got past first base in those five innings.

Meanwhile, the Cubs were up to their old tricks of not hitting with RISP. They had RISP in the sixth and seventh, both with less than two out, and could not score. Overall in this series the Cubs went 7-for-44 with RISP. The team scored 19 runs in the series, almost five per game, but could have had maybe a dozen more with better RISP batting.

Back to the action: Nico Hoerner had walked with one out in the ninth and got himself picked off after the second out was recorded. He was ruled safe on the field but the call was overturned on review [VIDEO].

So, onward to the 10th and the Manfred man. Jace Peterson served in that role for the Brewers. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, and the Cubs pulled the infield in with one out.

Kolten Wong grounded to Madrigal and Peterson was thrown out at the plate [VIDEO].

Leiter got Tyrone Taylor to fly to right and the game went to the bottom of the 10th still tied.

Heyward became the Manfred man. In this situation a bunt would actually be a useful thing, advancing the runner to third with one out. Madrigal didn’t bunt, but a ground ball to first advanced Heyward anyway.

That brought up Morel [VIDEO].

The fly ball to left was only medium-deep, but the throw by Christian Yelich was offline and Heyward scored easily. It was the Cubs’ first walkoff win since September 8, 2021, when Heyward hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning off the Reds’ Brad Brach. Since that game, the Cubs had been 7-26 at Wrigley Field until Wednesday night, including losing their last nine home games in 2021. That is the worst 33-game span at Wrigley in franchise history (previously, 8-25 in 1974, 1999 and 2013). Perhaps this win will at least begin to turn that around.

This note about Morel isn’t directly related to this game, but it does show the kind of energy he brings to the ballclub:

I like this kid’s play and his great attitude. If he keeps playing the way he has, not only will he stick for good in the major leagues, he might get some Rookie of the Year votes.

The Cubs thus split their series against a very good Brewers team, and have gone 5-5 against Milwaukee so far this year after a 4-15 showing against them in 2021. Also, the win put the Cubs ahead by one game all-time against the Brewers, 195 wins to 194.

Hopefully, they can keep that up against the Cardinals, who come to town Thursday to begin a five-game series, including a doubleheader Saturday. Keegan Thompson will start for the Cubs in the series opener and Matthew Liberatore will go for St. Louis. Game time Thursday is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.