It’s the kind of moment every kid spends years dreaming of in their backyard: bottom of the ninth, crowd on its feet, a walk-off homer to win the game. For most of us, it remains forever a fantasy. For Chicago Cubs utility man Christopher Morel, however, it somehow became reality at Wrigley Field on Wednesday — and he soaked in every last second of it.
For most of the night, the Cubs looked as though they were about to suffer an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the crosstown rival White Sox in a two-game set at Wrigley Field. The North Siders entered the bottom of the ninth down, 3-1, their much-ballyhooed lineup held frustratingly dormant all night. But Chicago managed to put the first two runners on to start the inning, bringing Morel to the plate as the potential winning run. What followed is hands-down the wildest party MLB has seen this season:
Christopher Morel blasted a walkoff bomb and his reaction is as good as it gets pic.twitter.com/HrpN0yICMR— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 17, 2023
That is, quite literally, the stuff dreams are made of, and Morel reacted like a man who blacked out some time after rounding first base. His batting helmet wound up somewhere in shallow center field, and his jersey didn’t even make it back to home with him — all while his Cubs teammates sprinted around Wrigley like little kids.
It’s not hard to see why: With the win, Chicago (62-58) leapfrogged the Marlins for the third and final NL Wild Card spot, which they lead by the slightest of margins over Miami and the Reds (both of whom sit at 63-59). And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Cubs, who were at risk of dropping their third game in a row on the same day that ace Marcus Stroman was diagnosed with rib fracture that figures to sideline him for the foreseeable future.
With Stroman out and not a ton of reliable depth beyond Justin Steele and Kyle Hendricks, Chicago is going to need a lot more moments like that from their lineup if they hope to make it back to the postseason. Morel has been a big part of the team’s success offensively, as he entered play Wednesday with a .256/.325/.505 slash line, 18 homers and four steals across his first 76 games. The Cubs will finish out their homestand with a three-game set against the Royals this weekend before hitting the road to play the Tigers next week.