The Rundown: Brown and Morel Lead Cubs to Rebound Win, Wisdom Mashing at Iowa, Pitching Injuries Pile Up

“It’s a bright horizon but I’m awakened. I see myself in a brand new way.” – Boston, Don’t Look Back

There are, of course, peaks and valleys to a 162-game season, and Monday night’s 9-8 loss to the Padres was the lowest of lows for every Cubs fan. My father had a go-to phrase for games like those, and I’ll give you the first half, trusting you’ll know what follows:

“Two tears in a bucket…”

That was his way of saying to just put the past behind you. Ben Brown and Christopher Morel did all of their talking on the field in a 5-1 rebound win Tuesday evening. Brown pitched 4.2 innings of shutout ball and Morel blasted a middle-middle sweeper from Stephen Kolek into the Petco Park grandstands for a bases-loaded home run.

That’s not to say that the evening was anything close to Southern California smooth sailing. The Padres had traffic on the bases in each of the first four innings, but Chicago’s defenders backed Brown thanks to a couple of sublime efforts — most notably by Cody Bellinger and Nico Hoerner — and Brown doused the fire each time. The rookie was so good he drew praise from Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez.

The Cubs needed a star effort from Brown after Monday’s debacle and got it. The lanky righty was on a 75-pitch limit and Craig Counsell lifted him with two outs in the 5th inning. He didn’t get the win, but he was a stopper nonetheless. Good teams turn the page after bad losses and that’s precisely what Brown and the Cubs did.

Morel’s home run was much more than a Herculean blast. He put the Cubs up 5-0 and though no lead seems safe in our short-term memories, that cushion provided a much-needed respite for Chicago’s bullpen. Drew Smyly was the team’s unsung hero despite giving up a pinch-hit home run to Eguy Rosario; Chicago’s North Side Baseballers might be up 2-0 in the series had Smyly pitched the night before. There has been some chatter about moving Javier Assad to the ‘pen but Smyly is perfect in that swingman role.

Brown will probably go back to Iowa once Justin Steele or Jameson Taillon returns, but he certainly gave fans a lot to dream about yesterday evening. That’s okay, though there is no doubt he could help the parent club all season long as a starter or a reliever. The organization should keep stretch Brown out because they will need starter innings as the season progresses. Last night was but a small taste of what lies ahead on the horizon.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Starring Bob Costas as the cringe-worthy grandpa…

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“You can see the morning, but I can see the light.” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Let It Ride

Morel now has 45 home runs in 900 career plate appearances, and yesterday’s big fly was the first grand slam of his career. Yan Gomes also hit a home run in the 5th inning, giving Brown and the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Suzuki was 3-for-5 on the night and is on something of a tear himself. Per StatMuse, he’s batting .374 with 74 hits, 13 homers, 49 RBI, and 42 runs in his last 57 games dating back to August 9, 2023. Chicago’s offense will remain a juggernaut if Morel and Suzuki continue at this pace.

In the two games since his debut in Texas, Brown has racked up 10 strikeouts against two walks over 8.2 innings of work. He’s given up just one run in that span, scattering six hits along the way. He, Steele, and Cade Horton will eventually give the Cubs a version of the Big Three that Counsell had in Milwaukee with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta.

  • Games Played: 11
  • Record: 7-4 (.636), 3rd place in NL Central
  • Total Plate Appearances: 434
  • Total Strikeouts: 87
  • Strikeout Rate: 20%
  • Team Batting Average: .264
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 26-for-92 (.283)
  • Runs Scored: 69
  • Runs Allowed: 52
  • Pythagorean Record: 7-4
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 81.5%, 4.7% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Jackson Holliday, the Orioles’ and baseball’s number one prospect, is headed to The Show.

The Red Sox celebrated the legacy of Tim Wakefield in an emotional reunion of their World Series-winning 2004 team.

The Yankees became the first team to reach double-digit wins as Carlos Rodón cruised through a punchless Marlins lineup in a 3-2 win.

RHP Josiah Gray of the Nationals is the latest pitcher to be derailed by an elbow injury.

The Astros are calling up RHP Spencer Arrighetti and he’ll make his MLB debut tonight. He’ll replace Framber Valdez, who hit the IL with an elbow strain.

A uniform malfunction showed a side of Riley Greene many had not seen before.

Christian Yelich is hitting the baseball as hard as he did in his 2019 MVP season.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Tyler Glasnow – The Dodgers righty struck out 14 batters in seven innings without issuing a walk in a 6-3 win over the Twins. Those 14 punchouts also tied a career high for Glasnow.
  2. Shea Langeliers – The Oakland backstop basically told Reggie Jackson to shove it up his backside with a three-tater night. He plated four runners in a 4-3 win over the Rangers.
  3. Morel – His 2-for-3 night included one strikeout, but his K-rate remains remarkably low at 10.9%. The slugging third baseman is on the verge of superstardom.

Honorable Mention: Ronald Acuña Jr. had two hits and three stolen bases for the Braves in a 6-5 win over the Mets.

Extra Innings

The grand slam by Morel was breathtaking but the dugout celebration was a lot more fun. Bro? Bro!

They Said It

  • “Super-special in the moment. My first year playing every day. … All offseason I was working hard. The guys showed me I could do it. [I’m] just trying to be more consistent, and learn from the bad days. We need to keep doing that.” – Morel
  • “[Brown] has done a nice job and he’s getting a ton of feedback on being a major-league starter and going through the lineup a couple of times and that’s great for him. You can tell him, but you have to experience it. That’s what is great about this and that’s also the natural process for a starting pitcher to go through. “ – Counsell

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

Morel, Brown, Busch, etc…

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