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Cubs 6, Twins 2: At last, some timely hitting

The Cubs blew open a tight game in the late innings.

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Admit it. You felt the same way I did around the sixth inning of this game.

The Cubs had given up a pair of runs early due in part to some sketchy fielding. And Sonny Gray was mowing down Cubs batters. Same old song, right?

Fortunately for the Cubs, that song suddenly changed. A pair of runs gave them the lead in the seventh after Gray was removed and they blew it open thanks to a long home run by Christopher Morel, and so the long road trip began on a positive note with a 6-2 win over the Twins.

This was probably going to be the toughest game of the series. Drew Smyly has been good this year, but Gray had been one of the best pitchers in baseball so far this season entering Friday night’s game. And he struck out seven Cubs in the first three innings. Meanwhile, the Twins put two on the board in the second and for a while, that looked like it might be enough.

The Cubs cut that lead in half in the fourth. Dansby Swanson led off with a walk and went to third on a double by Ian Happ.

Seiya Suzuki’s fly ball scored Swanson to make it 2-1 [VIDEO].

That’s where the game stayed until the seventh. Smyly didn’t allow any further runs and had yet another good outing, six innings, four hits, two runs, four strikeouts. Here’s more on Smyly’s game [VIDEO].

The Cubs had run up some long counts against Gray, so he had been lifted with one out in the sixth. Griffin Jax entered the game to throw the seventh. Patrick Wisdom singled with one out, and Matt Mervis’ double tied the game [VIDEO].

Trey Mancini followed with a single to right with Mervis stopping at third. Yan Gomes singled in Mervis with the lead run [VIDEO].

Adbert Alzolay entered the game to start the bottom of the seventh. He retired the Twins 1-2-3 in that inning, then issued a leadoff walk in the eighth. One out later, Alzolay induced Carlos Correa to hit into an inning-ending double play. Really nice outing for Alzolay, who needed only 22 pitches to record six outs. Those were two real high-leverage innings and he did an excellent job.

Then the Cubs put the game away in the top of the ninth. With one out, Gomes walked.

Morel then launched a baseball into one of the upper decks at Target Field [VIDEO].

That was the longest home run hit by any Cub so far this year:

Remind me again why this team wasted a month of Morel’s year by having him in the minor leagues while nobodies like Luis Torrens were on the MLB roster?

The Cubs were not done scoring, either. Swanson then walked for the second time in the game and was singled to third by Happ. Swanson then scored on this fly ball by Cody Bellinger [VIDEO].

Mark Leiter Jr. finished things up 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth on just eight pitches. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].

Bonus video! Here’s Morel talking to Russ Dorsey after the game [VIDEO].

As usual after a game like this, the complaint department is closed. This was a satisfying, well-played win and an excellent way to start a long road trip, especially with the opposition’s best pitcher going.

The Cubs and Twins switch over to afternoon baseball for the rest of this series. Saturday’s game will feature Hayden Wesneski starting for the Cubs and Joe Ryan going for Minnesota. Game time this afternoon is 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.

Site note! Today’s game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.