Christopher Morel looks like an offensive centerpiece as Cubs fall to the Rangers

The young slugger narrowly missed a grand slam in the tenth inning, and still finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored and a triple.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Although he wasn't at the hot corner for the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day, Christopher Morel still made his presence felt at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a triple in Thursday night's extra-inning loss to the Rangers.

Morel got things going early, hitting a leadoff triple in the top of the second against Texas right-hander Nate Eovaldi - then scoring the first run of the ballgame on a Dansby Swanson sacrifice fly.

Christopher Morel almost brought Rangers fans at Globe Life Field to their knees with his 10th-inning at-bat against David Robertson

But it was his tenth-inning AB that almost dramatically changed the game. With the score tied 3-3, the bases loaded and two outs, Morel unloaded on a hanging slider from David Robertson sending it deep down the left field line. While it had more than enough distance, he couldn't keep it fair and was rewarded with nothing but a long foul ball that had Cubs and Rangers fans alike holding their breath.

Even Robertson, a former Cub, knew how close it was to being a back-breaking grand slam. The veteran reliever was seen on the ESPN broadcast telling Morel, "You almost got me." Alas, the ball went foul and Morel wound up popping out to end the inning, putting the Rangers in the position to walk it off in the bottom half of the frame.

All told, though, it was a very solid start to the campaign for Morel, who will have to be an offensive centerpiece if the Cubs want to contend in the NL Central. Coming off an impressive 2023 season in which he racked up 46 extra-base hits in just 107 games, the hope is he'll team up with Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki to be the run producers in the heart of the order for first-year manager Craig Counsell.