Cubs fall to Orioles 9-3, give up five home runs in slug fest

BALTIMORE – Pushing back the left field wall didn’t do much to temper the slug fest hosted by Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday.

The Cubs lost 9-3 to the Orioles in a game that featured seven home runs.

Cubs rookie Christopher Morel sent the first pitch of the game over the fence for his first career leadoff homer. Almost immediately, things went downhill for the Cubs.

Cubs right-hander Keegan Thompson, in his second start as an official member of the rotation – he’d made three spot starts earlier in the year – gave up seven runs in three innings.

“My off-speed stuff was just spinning and staying arm-side,” Thompson said after his first loss of the season. “Looking at older pictures and a couple pictures from tonight, it looked like my stride was a little shorter, maybe, tonight than normal. So, my arm might have been dragging a little bit behind. I’ll look into that a little more tonight and tomorrow.”

The Orioles matched Morel’s leadoff homer and surpassed it with home runs on back-to-back pitches to kick off the bottom half of the first inning.

The next inning, Thompson hit two batters in a row before giving up a three-run home run to Jorge Mateo.

Thompson kept the ball in the yard for the third inning. But the Orioles found other ways to score. Anthony Santander, leading off the inning, hit a ground ball single through the left side of the infield to beat the shift. Then, Austin Hays hit a double up the left-field line.

Cubs left fielder Ian Happ fished the ball out of foul territory, and the relay in from shortstop Nico Horner took an on-target long hop to beat the runner, but the ball glanced off catcher Willson Contreras’ mitt as he tried to put down the tag.

Hays scored on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Mountcastle soon after to give the Orioles a 7-1 lead by the time Thompson walked off the mound. Cubs right-hander Alec Mills, just activated off the 60-day IL (right quadriceps strain) made his season debut as he replaced Thompson.

“It was nice to get back out there,” said Mills, who allowed two runs in five innings to finish the game. “Obviously the situation was not the best, you don’t ever want to come in early after a starter, but that’s why I’m here.”

The home run derby wasn’t over.

In the fifth inning, Contreras launched a first-pitch homer over the left field wall. It was his 10th home run of the season, making this his sixth season with double-digit homers. He only fell short of that mark in the shortened 2020 season.

While Contreras’ home run cleared the recently deepened left-field wall with ease, Hays took the prize for the most imposing long ball of the night. His fifth-inning solo homer landed in the second deck. At 464 feet, according to Statcast, it was the longest home run by an Oriole this season.

By contrast, Orioles third baseman Ram?n Ur?as used the unique new dimensions of the field to his advantage. In the sixth inning, he dropped a solo home run into the corner of the Orioles bullpen, which juts out into left center field. Happ crashed into the perpendicular wall as Ur?as scored the Orioles’ ninth run.

While home runs were responsible for most of the scoring, they didn’t account for every run. Morel, on Tuesday extending his franchise-record on base streak to start a career to 21 games, also hit a sixth-inning RBI triple.

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