Cubs rookie Christopher Morel took a deep breath before delivering a walk-off sacrifice fly Wednesday.
He said after the Cubs’ 4-3 extra-innings win that he was taking catcher Willson Contreras’ advice: “Hey, breathe, take your time.”
Morel had fouled off the first two pitches of the 10th-inning plate appearance. He watched a changeup that fell out of the strike zone. Then, he drove the fourth pitch to center field.
“I wanted to put the ball in play,” Morel said, “and [Jason] Heyward is a good runner. I trusted Heyward in this moment.”
The fly ball was deep enough for Jason Heyward to tag up at third and score.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “… Thank you God for this moment, my family, my country [the Dominican Republic], my city. And I’m so happy.”
Morel’s teammates ran out to greet him on the field, throwing water and cheering.
“He’s been coming through for us for a while now in a lot of different ways,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He’s one of those guys you just can’t wait till he gets back up, the top of the lineup turns over, and he’s that spark.”
It’s felt like a while, but Morel has only been in the big-leagues for about two weeks.
Morel also extended his on-base streak to 15 games in the first inning Wednesday as he drew an eight-pitch walk. After advancing to second on a single from Contreras, Morel stole third and scored on the errant throw from Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez. That was the first first run of the game.
The night before, Morel had set the franchise record for the longest on-base streak to start a career.
“That’s awesome,” Contreras said when he learned Morel had broken the record Contreras set in 2016. “Morel brings the energy. He brings a lot of things to the table. What I like the most is that he’s never mad, he’s never concerned about anything. That’s one thing that lets him play the way he’s playing right now. He deserves to stay here.”