Smiles up and down lineup as bats go wild

Cubs equal season high with 23 hits

July 1st, 2022

CHICAGO -- In a tough overall season like the one the Cubs are currently enduring, striking a balance between targeting individual goals and keeping a team-first mentality presents a challenge for players. On Thursday afternoon, Ian Happ explained how he approaches the situation.

"It's about celebrating those little victories," Happ said. "Every little thing that goes right, every learning moment, every teachable moment. It's trying to capitalize on those. Celebrate guys coming up and making their debuts, and individual performances."

There were plenty of little victories for the Cubs to celebrate within a 15-7 romp over the Reds at Wrigley Field. Chicago's lineup enjoyed seven multihit showing and had seven players drive in at least one run. It was a 23-hit outpouring to back a quality start from Kyle Hendricks.

Here are four performances that stood out:

1. Morel churns out five hits
In light of some strikeout-heavy struggles, Christopher Morel was removed from the leadoff spot and dropped to ninth by Cubs manager David Ross on Wednesday. The manager hoped to ease some pressure, while still putting Morel in position to turn things over to the top.

All Morel has done over the past two games is produce seven hits in nine at-bats.

"To go down to the nine," Ross said, "and just go off the last two days has been really nice to see. He's continued to have the same at-bats."

On Thursday, Morel collected an infield hit in the second, an RBI single in the third, another single in the fifth, a double to left in the seventh and then a towering solo blast off Reds outfielder Max Schrock in the eighth. With that showing, Morel put his name in the Cubs record book in a few ways:

• Morel was the first Cubs player to enjoy a five-hit game since Kris Bryant on Aug. 18, 2016.

• Morel became the first Cubs rookie to notch five hits in a game since Micah Hoffpauir on Sept. 25, 2008.

• At 23 years old, Morel became the youngest Cubs player to have a five-hit game since 18-year-old Ken Hubbs on May 20, 1962 (Game 2 of a doubleheader).

• Morel joined Vic Aldridge (May 6, 1922) as the only Cubs players since at least 1901 to produce five hits in a game out of the lineup's ninth spot.

"Morel having a career day, 5-for-5," Patrick Wisdom said. "You don't see that too often, so it's pretty special. This is a fun team to be a part of."

2. Wisdom's grand showing
Wisdom could have leaned on a cliché, but the Cubs slugger allowed himself to admit that, yes, he was looking for a third home run in the eighth inning. With Schrock on the mound, Wisdom pulled a pitch into left for a single (his third hit of the night).

"I'll be honest, yeah, I tried," Wisdom said. "I don't think I went overboard on trying, but I definitely tried."

It was still an historic showing from Wisdom, who finished with two home runs -- one being a grand slam in the second inning -- and six RBIs. It marked the fifth career multi-homer performance for Wisdom, who now has team-high 16 home runs this season.

Wisdom also stole a base, adding another statistical layer that put him on a very short list in Cubs history. Andre Dawson (June 2, 1987) and Heinie Zimmerman (June 11, 1911) are the only other Cubs since at least 1901 to tally two homers, six RBIs and a steal in the same game.

3. Hoerner extends hitting streak
With a seven-game hitting streak on the line Thursday, Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner went down swinging against Reds starter Graham Ashcraft in the first inning. Ross joked that he did a double-take in the dugout.

"It was just shocking," Ross said. "Like, 'What? What just happened?' It's just where he's been right now. He's in a really good place, really good rhythm."

By the end of the night, Hoerner had delivered three singles, extending his hitting streak to a career-best eight games. Over that span, Hoerner has hit at a .532 (17-for-32) clip, raising his season average to .310 from .271 in that stretch. He now ranks 16th in MLB and seventh in the National League in average (min. 200 plate appearances).

"Nico rakes," Ross said. "It's to all fields. It's hard line drives."

4. Crook's memorable debut
Before Thursday's game, as outfielder Narciso Crook chatted with reporters and surveyed Wrigley Field for the first time, he admitted that it was special to reach the big leagues when the Reds were in town. Cincinnati was the club that picked him in the 23rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

"It's very meaningful," Crook said. "It's cool that I get to play against them for the first time."

Crook was selected from Triple-A Iowa Thursday as a replacement for injured veteran Jason Heyward, following eight seasons and more than 2,000 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues -- then lived out his dream with a two-hit day. That included an RBI double in the seventh inning.

"I feel like everybody dreams about it and dreams about having a great debut," Crook said. "Fortunately, that was very special for me, just to go out there and have fun. I really can say that I did."