Colorado miscues provide another electric moment for Cubs’ Morel

Besides a brilliant American debut by Shota Imanaga, the story of Monday's home opener for the Cubs was Christopher Morel's so-called “Little League home run” in the sixth inning, which actually counted as a single and snapped a scoreless tie.

The Cubs couldn't generate much offense against Rockies starter Dakota Hudson, a former Cardinal, before the sixth. Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki led off the inning with singles. After a fly out, Morel ripped a single into left field.

Happ came to a stop as he rounded third base, but the ball slid under the left fielder's glove and rolled to the wall, allowing both runners to score. Morel stopped at third, then raced home when the cutoff throw bounced away, completing the round-trip.

“I felt like a little kid,” Morel said, with help from translator Fredy Quevedo Jr. “My first home opener, to be able to score in front of my teammates, in front of the fans, it's definitely a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life. It was incredible.”

It was one of those plays that only seems to happen to guys like Morel, who have the athleticism to create some mayhem.

“Morel tends to have a lot of those fun moments,” catcher Yan Gomes said.

Colorado left fielder Nolan Jones was charged with two errors on the play, one for letting the ball roll past him, then when the cutoff throw short-hopped his target. Cody Bellinger added a 2-run single in the seventh to make it 5-0.

The wind was blowing straight in from center field, which meant the only home run likely to happen was one that didn't leave the yard.

“With conditions like this, it's like playing baseball without the home run in the game,” manager Craig Counsell said. “It's like there's a rule there's no such thing as a home run. So it makes defensive mistakes, they can really cost you. Fortunately for us we got one on the other side.”

Counsell takes the walk

The Brewers played plenty of early-season games at Wrigley Field, so Craig Counsell felt right at home Monday. Then again, this was his first game managing the Cubs at Wrigley after spending eight years in his hometown of Milwaukee.

“Probably more nervous that I get lost around here than when the game starts,” he said before the contest. “Just finding your way around and everything.”

Counsell mentioned the early atmosphere outside the ballpark. Players and coaches typically park their cars, then cross Waveland Avenue to get into the stadium with plenty of fans waiting around.

“I wish the walk across the street would have lasted a little longer, because that's the cool part and that's the part you kind of want to soak in,” Counsell said. “But it's going to be a lot of fun walking in here every day for sure.”

Rainy days

Rain is expected for all three days of the first home series of the year against Colorado. Monday's opener started out OK, but fans were scurrying for cover when the rain started falling in the top of the seventh inning. Unlike on the South Side with the White Sox, the Cubs game was not delayed.

Before the game, manager Craig Counsell was asked if he ever game plans based on impending bad weather.

“I've tried to do that and that doesn't work,” Counsell said. “I'm not going to be looking at an app on my phone and predicting what's going to happen next. That's not going to work.”

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer suggested Thursday could be used as a makeup date if needed, because both the Cubs and Rockies are off.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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