If you had been wondering when Cubs hitters would finally explode and score a few runs at Wrigley Field, Thursday was the night.
Facing four real Reds pitchers and outfielder Max Schrock, the Cubs put 20 hits and 15 runs on the board and crushed the Reds 15-7. Christopher Morel had a five-hit night — the first for a Cub since Kris Bryant did it August 18, 2016 — and Patrick Wisdom added a pair of home runs including a monster grand slam. It was the first time the Cubs had scored in double figures at home since the 21-0 blanking of the Pirates back in April. The team’s 23 hits Thursday matched the total in that shutout of the Pirates for the Cubs’ 2022 season high.
Let’s start at the beginning!
Willson Contreras walked with one out and took third on a single by Ian Happ. Then this happened [VIDEO].
Me? I’d have scored that a hit, the play is not likely made even if Brandon Drury handles the ball cleanly. Wisdom did get an RBI on the play, for whatever that’s worth.
In the top of the second, Kyle Hendricks and Yan Gomes combined on this strikeout/throw-out double play [VIDEO].
And then the Cubs really got to work at the plate. P.J. Higgins led off the bottom of the second with a single. David Bote also singled, and Morel dropped a little ground ball in the infield and beat the throw to first to load the bases.
After Contreras grounded out, Ian Happ walked to re-load the bases.
I’m sorry but how far did that go?
I am truly sorry, Statcast, but that went WAY more than 401 feet:
Patrick Wisdom with his 15th home run of the season. A GRAND SLAM to Waveland Avenue. 440+ ft. One hop off the #CPD van and down Kenmore. 5th street home run of 2022. Cubs up 6-0. #wrigley #reds pic.twitter.com/2JFHpWtc5f— BALLHAWK.NET (@Super_Dave) July 1, 2022
440 feet sounds about right. After the game, Dave showed me exactly where that ball bounced, on the north side of Waveland at the Kenmore intersection, right behind the crosswalk. It kept rolling down the street, almost to the alley north of Waveland (probably another 100 feet or so) before he picked it up.
The Cubs made it 7-0 in the third. Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch and went to second on a single by Higgins and third on a fly to right, where Morel drove him in. Sorry, video of this individual hit is unavailable, but it’s in this clip of all or Morel’s five hits [VIDEO].
The Reds scored a run off Kyle Hendricks in the fourth on a weird play. There’s a runner on first when this happens [VIDEO].
This is what you risk when third base isn’t covered in extreme shifts like the Cubs sometimes use. Bote was injured on the play when he and Nico Hoerner didn’t get out of each other’s way. Bote stayed in the game for an inning and then was replaced by Andrelton Simmons. This doesn’t sound good:
Cubs: David Bote exited with left shoulder soreness. That's the same shoulder he had issues with last season, and needed offseason surgery on in October.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 1, 2022
Hope he’s OK.
Hendricks gave up a second run to the Reds in the sixth, a home run by Joey Votto. It just wouldn’t seem like a Cubs/Reds series at Wrigley without a Votto homer. That was his 24th career homer at Wrigley, and 48th overall against the Cubs. Both those numbers are second among active players to Albert Pujols.
The Cubs put a pair on the board in the bottom of the sixth. With two out, Wisdom hit this laser beam into the bleachers [VIDEO].
Couple things. First, you can’t hit a ball at an angle much lower than 20 degrees and still get it out of the yard. Second... if that one was 397, to the second row of the bleachers (and I concur with that), how can the other one, which hit Waveland, be only four feet longer? (Hint: It wasn’t. It was a lot longer.)
Hoerner followed with a single and Gomes doubled him in to make it 9-2 [VIDEO].
Hendricks’ outing was complete after six innings and 94 pitches. He allowed six hits and two runs, walked one and struck out seven, his second straight good outing. Hope this continues. Here are The Professor’s seven K’s [VIDEO].
The Cubs extended the lead again in the seventh. Morel’s fourth hit, a double, came with one out and Narciso Crook, who had replaced Ortega in the fifth, doubled him in with his first MLB hit [VIDEO].
Congrats to Crook on that milestone.
The Reds put two on the board off Rowan Wick in the eighth after two were out, and ... well, that was the right situation for Wick, eighth inning with an eight-run lead. Clearly, he still has things to work on. Or he’s injured — hope not.
Then it got to silly season. Schrock — who was briefly a Cub in the 2020-21 offseason before the Reds claimed him on waivers — entered to pitch the bottom of the eighth.
Hoerner led off with a single on a pitch Gameday called a “67.1 mph slider.” (Hint, Gameday: That’s not a slider.) After a fly to center, Higgins made it 12-2 [VIDEO].
That one, Statcast got right:
(Again, not a “slider.”)
Here it is from another angle:
Also, fun facts about Morel’s five-hit game:
Christopher Morel is the 1st Cubs player with a 5-hit game since Kris Bryant (Aug. 18, 2016).@jsfeldman2 notes that Morel is the youngest Cub with a 5-hit game since Ken Hubbs (May 20, 1962). Hubbs was 18. Morel is 23.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 1, 2022
Christopher Morel's 5-hit game is first by a #Cubs player out of the 9 spot in the order since pitcher Vic Aldridge 5/6/1922— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 1, 2022
Morel is 6-for-8 since being dropped to the 9 spot in the order. Guess he might stay there for a bit.
The Cubs weren’t done, either. Crook singled for his second hit of the game and went to third on a double by Contreras. Nelson Velázquez doubled them both in [VIDEO].
That was it for Cubs scoring, but the Reds put some final runs on the board in the ninth on a three-run homer by Tommy Pham off Brandon Hughes. Hughes did strike out Votto for the final out, though [VIDEO].
Here’s another fun fact, a weird coincidence: Remember the game last year where the Cubs scored seven runs in the first inning, but lost to the Brewers by the identical score to Thursday’s game, 15-7?
That happened exactly one year earlier, June 30, 2021. Of the 18 Cubs who played in that game, just six (Contreras, Wisdom, Happ, Ortega, Keegan Thompson and Alec Mills) are currently on the Cubs’ active roster.
One last fun fact, about Patrick Wisdom:
Patrick Wisdom is the 2nd Cubs player with 2 HR, 6 RBI, and a stolen base in a game since RBI became official in 1920.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 1, 2022
He joins Andre Dawson (June 2, 1987 vs Astros). pic.twitter.com/9KVHAdpmLY
The Cubs won their second straight series and also second consecutive home series. Since June 17, they’re 7-6. Which is good!
That game was fun. Now comes a more difficult task, trying to cool down the red-hot Red Sox, who went 19-6 in June. The series opener Friday features Adrian Sampson for the Cubs, who had a nice outing against the Cardinals last weekend, and our old pal Rich Hill starting for Boston. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Red Sox market territories).