Morel extends streak, Wisdom plays hero in win over Brewers
The Cubs badly needed some hope for the future this season. Actual hope displayed at Wrigley Field, that is, not by a 19-year-old in Myrtle Beach.
They got it from a surprising source. Christopher Morel continued to be a spark Tuesday, reaching base for the 14th consecutive game to start his big-league career, breaking a franchise record set by Willson Contreras.
Morel also tripled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. The Cubs beat the Brewers 8-7 on a tiebreaking home run by Patrick Wisdom in the eighth inning.
To say Morel's success was unexpected is an understatement. He is rated the No. 21 prospect in the Cubs organization by MLB Pipeline. He didn't skip Triple A exactly, but played just 10 games for the Iowa Cubs, none this year.
His career nearly ended before it began when a collision with a glass door in his native Dominican Republic in 2015 caused severe lacerations to his left arm and eye. At first, doctors told him he'd never play baseball again.
So it makes sense why Morel seems to have more fun than anybody on the field. He celebrates his hits, runs the bases with abandon and loves interacting with teammates.
"It's refreshing," Wisdom said before the game. "He's just a good ball of energy, always positive. It's just a good reminder this is a fun game. You've got to play with joy and happiness and positivity. To see that daily is awesome."
Of course, when it comes to announcing a rookie's arrival in the bigs, baseball plays by a different set of rules. Opponents might find a pitch that gives him problems, or could just start pitching around him.
Asked if the Cubs can help Morel navigate this challenge, manager David Ross strongly rejected the premise.
"You pat guys on the back when they're doing great, then when adversity hits, you're there to pick them up when they fall and talk about maybe an experience you had or a moment of teaching and learning through adversity," Ross said.
"But when somebody's doing great, you just sit back and watch. There's nothing to do. You don't talk about the negative part. I don't understand that at all."
Wisdom could relate, though, because he's been there. As much as the organization would love to proclaim Morel the leadoff man of the "next great Cubs team," scouting reports are being drawn up to try and shut him down.
"It's knowing internally what you're capable of and knowing you can succeed even though you may be scuffling or you might not get your pitch to hit," Wisdom said. "It's staying within yourself, not going to chase their pitch.
"Because I've done that. You go, 'I'm not getting any pitches to hit so I'm going to start swinging at their pitch.' Then you're like, 'Well, why did I do that?' I'm out anyway, so take it and now I get a walk and the guy behind me can hit."
Morel started Tuesday's game with a deep line drive to right, but Brewers outfielder Tyrone Taylor made a leaping catch. In the fourth, Morel drew a walk after starting 0-2. Then he drew a pickoff throw to first base from ex-Cubs catcher Victor Caratini, which sailed into the outfield and allowed the tying run to score.
Caratini made up for the error by blasting a 3-run home run in the sixth off Rowan Wick to put Milwaukee ahead 6-3. P.J. Higgins homered for the second straight day, and RBI doubles by Contreras and Frank Schwindel put the Cubs ahead 7-6 in the bottom of the inning. Contreras also homered for the second straight day.
"The fact that we're in a lot of the 1-run games tells you the team's good enough to compete with the best," Ross said. "That's a really good team over there. You've got to make things happen, right? You've got to push over that hump. Big swing tonight puts us ahead."
Wisdom connected on a two-out, 3-2 change from Brad Boxberger after starting off 0-2. He sent the ball onto Waveland Avenue.
"I want to hit the fastball, he's got a good one," Wisdom said. "Full count, though, I was just ready for him to throw a strike. For me I just had to push him back to the middle of the zone, something I could handle.
"We talked about in the clubhouse getting on the right side of those 1-run games and thankfully tonight we did and I'm happy to be a part of it for sure."