Cubs squander Christopher Morel’s game-tying homer in his season debut in loss to Cardinals

Dansby Swanson contributed three extra-base hits and three RBI.

SHARE Cubs squander Christopher Morel’s game-tying homer in his season debut in loss to Cardinals
The Cubs’ Christopher Morel celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

The Cubs’ Christopher Morel celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Image

Cubs utility player Christopher Morel balled his hands into fists at his sides and shouted as his line drive to center field landed in the batter’s-eye shrubbery. He just had tied the score with a solo home run in the sixth inning of his first major-league game of the season Tuesday.

The Cubs, however, would go on to waste Morel’s performance in a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

After starter Jameson Taillon was charged with four runs in 2⅔ innings, the brunt of the workload fell to reliever Javier Assad. He kept the Cardinals at bay for five innings, but he allowed a solo homer, a triple and an RBI double in the ninth. The Cubs’ offense then went down in order to end the game.

Morel started at second base with Nico Hoerner out of the lineup because of a mild hamstring strain. With two outs in the fourth, he made a backhanded grab on a ground ball up the middle and threw across his body on the run to retire Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt to end the inning.

He helped turn two double plays, fielding a grounder up the middle and flipping to shortstop Dansby Swanson for one, then receiving a laser of a throw from Assad and firing to first base for the other.

‘‘[Morel has] got some explosive twitchiness that I wish I had,’’ said Swanson, who had three extra-base hits for the fourth time in his career and drove in three runs. ‘‘I wish I could play as loose as he does. . . .

‘‘But it’s so fun to be able to watch him go out there and play. And to be able to come up and obviously impact the game the way he did tonight was awesome.’’

Morel went 2-for-4 with the homer in the sixth and a single in the eighth.

‘Figure things out’

The details change from game to game, but the Cubs’ loss Tuesday followed a familiar storyline.

In a close contest, the Cubs put up a fight. But when they rallied back, they didn’t hold the momentum for long. They loaded the bases but didn’t push those runs across the plate. When they needed the big hit at the end, it never came.

The Cubs have lost nine of their last 12 games, and the same themes have shown up time and again.

‘‘We’re doing a lot of things well, and I’m going to continue to try to focus on those things,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘We’re playing great defense, the pitching, the bullpen, the intent is there, the work is there.

‘‘Balls aren’t falling for us right now. Thank goodness it’s a long season. I know we’ll figure this thing out. Too much talent not to.’’

Injury updates

Pitchers Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) and Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery), who are on rehab assignments at Triple-A, appeared in Iowa’s game Tuesday.

Hendricks threw five scoreless innings, holding Toledo to two hits. Heuer faced three batters, striking out two and walking one.

Catcher Yan Gomes (concussion) is close to returning from the seven-day injured list, Ross said. Gomes took batting practice on the field before the game and continued to run through baseball activities.

The Latest
Rels B, the 30-year-old rapper and record producer from Mallorca, Spain, opened with his 2019 hit single “A Mí.”
The bullpen allowed five runs in the eighth inning of Saturday’s loss.
No cause of death was given for the golfer, who withdrew from the Schwab Cup challenge in Fort Worth on Friday.
There are more than 30 food and beverage options in Grant Park through Sunday at the third iteration of Chicago’s largest Latin music festival.
Police told her they found marijuana in her bags, and it would have to be weighed, the rapper tweeted.