Cubs’ offense breaks out in much-needed win over Reds in series finale
CINCINNATI — David Ross saw no need to hammer the panic button.
After two games where the offense struggled and lost tough games in walk-off fashion, it could have been easy to want to shuffle everything around to try and spark his hitters.
“You got to trust in your process that got us here,” Ross said before the series finale against the Reds. “We’re not going to overhaul anything come September. We’re going to stick to what we’ve done really well.”
Sunday, the Cubs’ bats reminded everyone what they’re capable of.
The Cubs bats’ broke out Sunday afternoon for 18 hits, highlighted by a 7-run 8th inning to take the season finale against the Reds, 15-7.
“I feel like we’ve been hitting balls hard and just to be able to break through in that game, it was huge,” Nick Madrigal, who delivered the go-ahead, 2-run single in the 8th, said. “This lineup is pretty scary from top to bottom. We’ve been grinding it out and it was only a matter of time. It was definitely a good win for us and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Things started hot for the Cubs’ hitters. Three of their first four hitters singled against rookie debutant Carson Spiers. In the second, they added another pair of runs on a Mike Tauchman single and Ian Happ sacrifice fly.
Mike Tauchman's 9th-inning double gives him his first-career four-hit game.— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) September 3, 2023
But the Reds offense started hotter.
They hit 3 home runs in the first 2 innings off Jameson Taillon, holding a 4-3 lead early on. Taillon settled in like he’s done in the past, retiring the next 7 hitters he faced. Cody Bellinger tied the game at 4 in the top of the 6th with a solo home run. Then Taillon exited the game with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the frame. The Reds brought the runner around to score on a single, giving them a 5-4 lead.
The Cubs tied it again in the 7th on a Happ single and took control of the game an inning later.
Dansby Swanson broke out of a 0-for-12 slump with a single to lead off the 8th. The next five hitters reached to give the Cubs a 9-5 lead. But they weren’t done. Bellinger brought in the 4th run of the inning on a sacrifice fly and Swanson bookended the inning with a 2-run double.
“I thought we just kept having at-bats,” Ross said after the game. “We kept it close, just offensively we were great, I thought all day.”
Jeimer Candelario added a 9th-inning home run and Happ added a 2-run double after the Reds scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th. It provided some cover for a pitching staff that has had to cover 36 innings over the last 50 hours or so.
“We’re playing so many tight games, it’s nice to stretch one out there,” Ross said. “Giving us length in this series is hard with the doubleheader, but offensively they picked it up today. It was really nice.”
It was a nice performance out of some hitters — like Swanson, Candelario and Tauchman — who had been struggling to have results to get them back on track.
“There’s ups and downs to season and you try to stay consistent as best you can but when it’s not going well, you feel it and you wanna contribute and that goes for everybody in all aspects,” Tauchman, who was slashing .140/.271/.140/27 wRC+ in his previous 15 games entering Sunday, said. “There’s good days, bad days, just OK days and you just try to keep everything in perspective and keep working and not overreact to things. It’s easier said than done. But it just felt good to get out there.”
Sunday’s performance showed how good the offense can be when it’s clicking.
“To be able to make good swing decisions, be able to use the whole field, be able to hit with 2 strikes, be able to move a runner, stuff like that — I don’t wanna see ‘get creative ways to find runs,’ — but create runs, it’s huge for an offense,” Tauchman said. “If you look at the teams that have had success in the postseason the last few years, yes they have guys that can slug, yes, they have lineup depth, but it’s a lot of good, tough outs who are able to execute a lot of different situations.”
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