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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 92

The Cubs were crushed in the series finale.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This season largely marks the seventh consecutive season that this Cubs organization dashed your hopes every time you start to believe that maybe they’ve turned some kind of corner. In most cases, those expectations for us as fans aren’t even that the team particularly be a World Series contender. I think right now the majority of us yearn for any amount of consistent effort and results.

I think back to so many days I spent at Wrigley Field. I think of the crack of the bat on a summer day and seeing the ball in the air and there is a buzz and some people come to their feet... just as the left fielder takes a few steps in and catches a lazy fly ball. I’m sure this phenomenon, to varying extents, plays out in ballparks all across North America. But I always remember it being a little stronger at Wrigley Field. We want to believe.

And so it is that every time the team shows signs of life, we want to believe. We want to follow a team that fights like hell all of the way down to the last out. We want to follow a team that executes fundamentally. We want to follow a team that has a roster that is productive 1 through 26. And again, all across fandoms this phenomenon plays out to varying degrees. Everyone feels like their team is flat more often than they should be, that they don’t get enough production out of someone who plays every day, that their bench is thin, that there aren’t enough dependable starting pitchers or relief pitchers.

We want to believe that it’s going to get better. And so we want to believe every time they take a few steps that this team has gotten its act together. And all too often, those hopes and dreams are met with disappointment.

Sunday afternoon baseball was varying types of disappointment on the north side. An early homer that looked like Mike Tauchman was in position to turn into an out. Tauchman leading off the first with a single for the Cubs that would be their last hit until the eighth inning. A ball that Nico Hoerner will tell you he should have been able to convert into an out that opened the flood gates to five more Red Sox runs. Two Cubs relievers getting lit up and ending any remote chance of a comeback. Loading the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, scoring three runs while only one out was recorded and then failing to keep adding. That two more runs in the ninth inning didn’t make any difference because the game was so out of reach.

Disappointing. Make no mistake, there is no reason and there isn’t going to be any reason to make any deals attempting to improve the 2023 Cubs. Every decision made from here until the end of the year should be made through the lens of the 2024 Cubs and what might give them a chance to be more competitive on a day-to-day, consistent basis.

When I started looking at this game after seven innings and starting the process of identifying three positives, I settled on the idea of there only being one positive. Mike Tauchman was by a wide margin the player of the game for the Cubs. On a day when the Cubs looked perhaps like the opposition of a scrimmage against a non-MLB team. Tauchman had two hits and three walks. He scored two runs and drove in one.

The two players whose lines look the best after five runs scored in garbage time were Nico Hoerner and Trey Mancini. Nico had a two-run triple, walked and was hit by a pitch. Mancini had a hit and a walk and scored two runs. Rightly or wrongly, Mancini is my least favorite Cub in recent memory. I would gladly trade him later this month for any amount of salary relief or a prospect that had any chance of being a future impact.

Game 92, July 16: Red Sox 11 at Cubs 5 (43-49)


Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.


  • Superhero: Mike Tauchman (.092). 2-2, 3 BB, R
  • Hero: Miles Mastrobuoni (.072). 0-2, 2 BB, R, K
  • Sidekick: Seiya Suzuki (.012). 0-3, BB, K


  • Billy Goat: Justin Steele (-.225). 6 IP, 28 batters, 10H, BB, 6R, 6K (L 9-3)
  • Goat: Christopher Morel (-.168). 1-5, RBI, 2K
  • Kid: Ian Happ (-.127). 0-3, 2K, DP

WPA Play of the Game: The game was only 2-0 when Masataka Yoshida batted with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth. Yoshida took Justin Steele deep and the rout was on. (.187)

*Cubs Play of the Game: With no outs and a runner on first in the first inning, Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch. (.059)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    Mike Tauchman
    (83 votes)
  • 3%
    Someone else (please leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (3 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Cody Bellinger won a second straight (Superhero is 62-29)

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)

  • Marcus Stroman +21
  • Ian Happ +17.5
  • Mike Tauchman +12
  • Justin Steele +11
  • Matt Mervis +8
  • Julian Merryweather -6.5
  • Seiya Suzuki -7
  • Patrick Wisdom -12
  • Jameson Taillon -14
  • Trey Mancini -18

Up Next: The Washington Nationals come to Wrigley Field. The Nationals are 37-56 and just lost two out of three from the Cardinals over the weekend and have lost seven of 10. Drew Smyly makes his first start of the second half. Smyly’s numbers (7-6, 4.31, 94 IP) don’t look awful, but over seven starts heading into the break, he was 2-4 with a 6.35 ERA in 34 innings. The Cubs are going to need Drew to get things squared away. He did have a terrific start against the Nationals back on May 1. He threw seven innings, allowed six hits and one run.

24-year-old lefty MacKenzie Gore makes the start for the Nationals. The former third pick overall of the Padres in 2017 is 4-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 89⅔ innings. Gore hasn’t struggled quite as bad as Smyly recently, but he has a similar story. His last seven starts produced a 1-4 record with a 5.97 ERA in 31⅔ innings.