Mike Tauchman’s career day propels Cubs to victory
Mike Tauchman continues to be one of the best stories of the 2023 Cubs season.
The Chicagoland native showed out in a big way Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field, helping to lead his team to an 8-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Tauchman hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 1st inning, doubled home a run in the 4th and then doubled home another run in the bottom of the 7th inning. It was the first game of his career in which he notched 3 extra-base hits.
Tauchman also made a nice sliding catch in the 3rd inning to rob former Cub Jeimer Candelario of a hit and saving a run for pitcher Kyle Hendricks:
Sockman sliding snag! pic.twitter.com/ClSGTRBdho— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 20, 2023
Tauchman’s heroics helped spark the Cubs to a series victory over the Nationals and allowed his team to keep pace in the NL Central on a day in which both the Reds and Brewers won.
In addition to the big hits, Tauchman also walked in the 8th and is now slashing .261/.372/.392 on the season (.764 OPS).
Tauchman didn’t make his season debut until May 19 but has sparked the lineup, particularly from the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers. He held down the fort while Cody Bellinger was on the IL and even after Bellinger has returned, manager David Ross has found ways to get both players in the lineup with Tauchman in center and Bellinger at first base.
“Since he’s been here in the leadoff spot, that’s been the best version of our offense since maybe the first three weeks of the season,” Ross said. “Just good defense I feel like he plays. … He’s done a really nice job for us. He’s a baseball guy and thinks the right things. He’s fun for that group and he’s been swinging the bat really well, getting on base, doing a nice job at the top.”
Hendricks echoed his manager’s sentiments.
“The defense, No. 1 — he makes unbelievable plays out there,” Hendricks said. “And the at-bats — every single at-bat is just a pro at-bat. You think he’s gonna get a hit every time or get on base, work a walk or something. And that mindset trickles down to the rest of the lineup. You can see the at-bats we put together when he’s on top of the order and just focusing like he does and getting the right pitch to hit.
“He’s always coming up with big hits or getting on base when we need him. That’s been a kickstart for the rest of the lineup for sure.”
After Washington tied the score in the top of the 8th inning, Yan Gomes knocked in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the frame. Nico Hoerner added insurance with a grand slam later in the inning, the first of his career.
Hendricks was in vintage “Professor” form, allowing only a run on 5 hits and 0 walks in 6 innings. He lowered his ERA to 3.38 and picked up his 6th quality start of the campaign.
The Cubs welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to town for a 4-game series beginning Thursday night. The Cardinals are one of the hottest teams in baseball, riding a 5-game winning stream that has pulled them just 2.5 games behind the Cubs in the standings.
The Cubs hope the momentum from the last 2 games will carry into the rest of the homestand.
“I feel like it’s coming, the timing’s coming,” Ross said of his lineup after scoring 25 runs over the last 2 games. “Everybody feels like they’re starting to feel pretty good. We got a big series ahead of us, Cardinals coming in — 4 games against them. Let’s see if we can carry a little bit of that momentum into that series.”