Christopher Morel continues to be a ‘spark’ and highlight for the Chicago Cubs — coming up clutch in win vs. Milwaukee Brewers

The suggestion came from the on-deck circle.

“Breathe. Take your time.”

Willson Contreras’ message to Chicago Cubs rookie Christopher Morel was exactly what he needed in that moment after falling behind 0-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. Morel did as Contreras instructed and focused on maintaining his approach — just put the ball in play.

Two pitches later, Morel connected on Milwaukee Brewers reliever Hoby Milner’s low-and-away changeup and lofted it to left field. Morel hit it deep enough to score Jason Heyward from third base for a walk-off sacrifice fly in a 4-3 win.

“It’s amazing, this moment for me,” Morel said. “We’re working for this moment.”

Morel wasn’t fixated on whether he hit the ball far enough for Heyward to score on Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich.

“Heyward’s a good runner, so I trust him in this moment,” Morel said with a laugh.

Morel continues to be a highlight in an otherwise underwhelming start to the season for the Cubs. He extended his franchise record by reaching base in his 15th straight game to begin his career with a first-inning walk.

“He’s been coming through for us for a while now in a lot of different ways,” manager David Ross said. “He’s one of those guys you just can’t wait until he gets back up. The top of the lineup turns over and he’s that spark.”

Morel stole third base in the first inning, resulting in the Cubs’ first run. His aggressiveness his caused Brewers catcher Omar Narváez to throw the ball away.

The Cubs’ 12 consecutive games with at least one stolen base is the team’s longest stretch since recording a steal in 14 straight in 1986, according to team historian Ed Hartig. Morel has stolen six bases in his last 13 games.

His infectious energy has been a constant since his call-up last month.

“I love baseball,” Morel said. “God gives me these moments, so I need to give everything every time I go on the field. … I give everything to my team.”

While plays like Morel’s steal paid off, the Cubs’ aggressiveness on the bases nearly cost them in the victory. They committed three outs on the bases: Contreras was thrown out trying to take an extra base at third to end the fifth, Ian Happ was caught stealing at third and Nico Hoerner was picked off first base in the ninth, forcing extra innings.

“They’re going to have some days like that,” Ross said. “You’re going to have to take some risk and push the envelope. … Any little place we can take advantage of is going to pay huge dividends.

“I love the risk we’re taking in the moments we’re taking them, and we’ll continue to learn from the mistakes in the areas where we need to improve.”

The bullpen gave the Cubs a shot at pulling out the win. Five relievers combined to throw five scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. Mark Leiter Jr. stranded the Brewers’ automatic runner in the 10th at third base after a wild pitch. He earned his first big-league win since 2017.

Kyle Hendricks went five innings and surrendered three runs.

“It’s infectious when you have a guy that brings positive energy, a smile on his face every single day,” Hendricks said of Morel. “It permeates to everyone in that clubhouse. Everyone picks up and feeds off his energy his.”

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