Some folks have begun to hint that maybe Christopher Morel should be sent to Triple-A Iowa due to his ongoing batting slump.
One game doesn’t necessarily turn around that slump, but Morel made his case to stay in the big leagues Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. He singled and homered and also made a tremendous throw to catch a Reds runner at the plate (also credit to Willson Contreras for an excellent tag), and the Cubs evened up their series with Cincinnati with an 8-3 win.
It had been a while since the Cubs scored a first-inning run (June 18 vs. Atlanta, and despite that, the Cubs are still second in MLB in first-inning runs with 56), so it was good to see them take the lead in the first after Justin Steele set the Reds down 1-2-3 in the top of the inning. With one out, Contreras was hit by a pitch, and Ian Happ doubled him in [VIDEO].
The Reds asked for a review of the play at the plate, but it was ruled “call stands.”
In the top of the fourth, Tommy Pham hit a ground ball that couldn’t be handled by David Bote for the Reds’ first hit of the game. A walk and another single loaded the bases. That brought up Donovan Solano, and here’s where Morel made his great throw [VIDEO].
The throw was a bit offline, so major props to Contreras for the swipe tag that got Pham on the back to end the inning. Also:
Christopher Morel has two outfield assists this year with an arm strength of 97.3 mph, per Statcast. Those are the hardest-thrown outfield assists on record for a Cubs player since July 20, 2016, when Heyward hit 98.9 mph on a throw.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 30, 2022
Justin Steele was impressed by Christopher Morel’s throw to get the runner at home in the 4th to complete the inning-ending double play: “That was pretty sick.”— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 30, 2022
As Steele put it: “I mean, it was 97 mph, which I can’t even do on the mound.” #Cubs
Then the Cubs put two more on the board in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Greene walked the first two Cubs (Happ and Patrick Wisdom), and another double, this one by Nico Hoerner, scored both runners [VIDEO].
The double gave Hoerner a seven-game hitting streak.
Two more Cubs runs scored in the fifth. Morel led off with a single and one out later, Contreras hit a laser beam into the bleachers [VIDEO].
Look at this launch angle:
You can’t hit a baseball at a much lower angle than that and get it into the seats. That made it 5-0 Cubs. Also, about that single by Morel:
Morel comes through with 102 mph single in 5th. David Ross, who dropped the rookie from leadoff today, has appreciated how Morel has handled his recent slump:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 30, 2022
"Nothing else about him has changed. His attitude's still the same. He comes in with a smile, high-fiving everybody."
The Reds scored one off Steele in the sixth and wisely, David Ross lifted him at that point. It was a nice outing for Steele, five-plus innings with six hits allowed (three of them infield grounders) and six strikeouts. Scott Effross retired the next three hitters in a row to end the inning.
The Cubs put two more on the board in the bottom of the frame, courtesy of Morel, who homered after a Bote double [VIDEO].
All together now: That ball was crushed!
Talking to Cubs assistant coach Juan Cabreja recently about Christopher Morel's adjustments, he said, "Sometimes he wants to hit 600-foot homers instead of like 400-foot homers. That's OK."— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) June 30, 2022
Morel launched that one 429 ft.
So now it’s 7-1. The Reds scored one in the eighth off Matt Swarmer, and the Cubs responded in the bottom of the inning. Andrelton Simmons, who had replaced Bote at second base, walked, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Rafael Ortega sent him home with this sac fly [VIDEO].
During Ortega’s at-bat, the scoreboards at Wrigley had a different count for him. The center-field board was correct, but the ribbon boards on the upper-deck facade had one extra ball — Ortega thought he had walked on what was actually ball three. So... the umpires had to check with the review crew [VIDEO].
Rick Fuhs, who runs the center-field board, is really good at what he does, and he had the count correct on that board. This is the second time this year that this has happened in a MLB game:
The umpires in Miami all forgot what the count was, so they had to get on the phone with MLB in New York and took over four minutes to figure it out pic.twitter.com/Vn4dfBIllo— Welcome to the Ump Show (@umpjob) May 15, 2022
Fortunately, it didn’t take that long at Wrigley, perhaps a minute or a bit longer.
One more Reds run, a solo homer by Brandon Drury, crossed the plate in the ninth, and Swarmer wrapped things up with a strikeout of Joey Votto [VIDEO].
It was a satisfying win, well played in pretty much every aspect of the game. One last amusing note from this one:
Many of us know Fabian and he’s extremely well liked among his gameday staff co-workers. Glad to see him get some recognition for his work down the left-field line.
The Cubs will go for another series win Thursday evening at Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Graham Ashcraft gets the call for Cincinnati. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.