Chicago Cubs offense comes back from the brink with a win over the New York Mets — after getting blanked for seven innings

NEW YORK — Sometimes one swing is all it takes to erase a team’s offensive struggles.

Christopher Morel seized his moment Monday night against New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz in front of 40 friends and family members. After Mets starter Luis Severino took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the Cubs rallied to set up Morel’s heroics in the ninth. The Cubs’ third baseman got all of Díaz’s 3-1 elevated 97.1 mph fastball with two outs for a no-doubt, go-ahead, two-run home run. Héctor Neris worked around two walks in the ninth to lock down a 3-1 Cubs comeback win.

Morel’s home run was the first Díaz allowed off his four-seam fastball since May 12, 2022, a span of 57 games and 225 batters faced.

“I’m always ready for the fastball,” said Morel through an interpreter. “Regardless of what the count is, regardless of what the situation is, I’m always ready for the fastball.”

The Cubs (18-11) had nothing going the first seven innings, with just one ball in play registering an expected average above .270. At one point, as Pete Crow-Armstrong put down a bunt attempt that rolled foul, boos rained down from Mets fans among the 25,046 people in Citi Field.

Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” immediately started playing over stadium speakers while Crow-Armstrong headed back into the batter’s box with one out in the sixth before ultimately grounding out on a soft roller to second base. Crow-Armstrong was trying to get something going in a one-run game against Severino, who was on a roll.

The Cubs’ lineup finally broke through in the eighth when Dansby Swanson’s soft liner to center field gave them their first hit following Michael Busch’s leadoff walk. Severino got ahead 0-2 on Swanson and nearly jammed him with a sinker up and in on his hands. Swanson, though, was able to turn on it just enough and felt confident it was a hit off the bat.

“I felt like every frickin’ pitch he threw tonight was a good pitch, you know?” Swanson said. “The bat died a hero.”

Despite the seven innings of futility that featured just two Cubs base runners — Ian Happ’s walk in the fourth and Mike Tauchman getting hit by a pitch in the seventh — they tied the game at 1 on Nick Madrigal’s pinch-hit fielder’s choice. Madrigal beat the throw to first base to break up a would-be inning-ending double play.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon did his part to give the offense a chance to break out of their funk. A home run by leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo in the first inning represented the only run Taillon allowed in 7 1/3 innings. Taillon gave up four hits, walked one and struck out one batter, needing just 78 pitches to get into the eighth.

“Who he is as a human and what he means to us as a leader in this clubhouse, for him to just go out there and continue to perform and give us a chance to do what we need to do was huge for us tonight,” Swanson said of Taillon. “It shows obviously what he’s capable of but what he means to this group.

“Just an all-around good team performance, sometimes you’ve got to win games like that.”

Taillon showed a diverse pitch mix, predominately relying on his cutter, sweeper and four-seam fastball to keep the Mets in check. He incorporated eight sinkers, a pitch he doesn’t like throwing too much but felt he and catcher Yan Gomes utilized in the right moments. Taillon’s ability to nearly match Severino and throw up zeroes gave the offense a chance to rally. In the middle of the game, Taillon was solely focused on making pitches. But as he took the mound to start the eighth with the game tied and knowing someone in the bullpen was warming up, he was aware of the situation.

“Don’t get beat over the meaty part of the plate, don’t give up a homer,” Taillon said of his mentality in the eighth. “Toward the end it’s really processing what’s going on and who I’m facing.”

Taillon kept encouraging his teammates in the dugout each inning, reminding them they still had at-bats to work with against Severino, his former Yankees teammate.

“I mean you can feel it, you can feel the crowd catching on and hanging on to every pitch,” Taillon said. “Sevy’s pitched in a lot of big moments. I thought maybe there was a chance (he’d throw a no-hitter), he was moving quick, he was throwing strikes, his pitch count was good. But just a crazy good eighth inning. When a guy’s on his game, that’s how you’re going to have to beat him.”

The Cubs were collectively due for an offensive slump yet found a way to get out of it, at least for two innings, to pull out the late win Monday. The victory comes after two tough losses in Boston following Saturday’s 17-0 blowout and being handed a walk-off loss Sunday night at Fenway Park.

“This is the big leagues, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, nobody’s going to cut us any breaks,” Tauchman said after Sunday’s loss of the injuries the Cubs have battled. “We still have to show up. I think for guys it just is what it is, let’s move on. There’s things you can control and there’s things you can’t.”

Manager Craig Counsell said it best last week when Cody Bellinger landed on the 15-day injured list with two fractured right ribs.

“When you lose Seiya (Suzuki), when you lose Cody, players like that, your offense doesn’t improve — it can’t, right?” Counsell said Wednesday. “In short stretches, certainly anything can happen. Frankly what your goal is in those situations is there’s going to be a little bit of a drop-off, but you hope to minimize it as much as you can.”

The Cubs haven’t been no-hit since July 25, 2015, when Philadelphia Phillies lefty Cole Hamels accomplished the feat at Wrigley Field. The franchise’s streak of avoiding being no-hit on the road extends to Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, at Dodger Stadium.