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Cubs 17, Nationals 3: The bats suddenly come alive

Now THAT was fun!

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As the bottom of the sixth inning began Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field, I was sitting at the ballpark thinking sad thoughts about how I’d write yet another recap of another losing baseball game for the Chicago Cubs.

And then the Cubs bats woke up, exploding for 17 hits and 16 runs over the last three innings, crushing the Nationals 17-3. The run total was the most for the Cubs since they beat the Reds 15-2 in Cincinnati on the last day of the 2022 season, and the most at Wrigley Field since the 21-0 crushing of the Pirates in April 2022. Their 20 hits were also a season high.

The game did not start out this way. Jameson Taillon served up a home run to the second Nats batter he faced, Lane Thomas, and that was an “Uh-oh, here we go again” moment. The Nats put two more on the board in the second, and that felt like a “This game is over” moment because the Cubs seemingly could do nothing with Patrick Corbin. Corbin had also thrown a good game against the Cubs in Washington in May, so it seemed like same old, same old.

The Cubs did get on the board in the fourth inning. Ian Happ led off with a walk and went to third on a single by Cody Bellinger. Yan Gomes scored Happ with this sacrifice fly [VIDEO].

So it’s 3-1 and now, maybe, the Cubs could get back in the game.

Taillon came one batter short of finishing six innings, allowing just the three runs. He threw better from the third to the sixth. It wasn’t a great outing, but it wasn’t awful either, as had been so many of Taillon’s in the first half. He was helped out by this slick double play in the fourth [VIDEO].

Then the Cubs got to work at the plate. Seiya Suzuki led off the sixth with this home run [VIDEO].

The ball bounced on the back concourse of the bleachers and wound up on Waveland:

That made it 3-2. Happ followed with a single and stole second. An infield hit by Cody Bellinger moved Happ to third — but this throwing error allowed Happ to score [VIDEO].

So the game was tied heading to the seventh. Michael Fulmer, who had finished the sixth, threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

The Cubs immediately took the lead on Patrick Wisdom’s 17th home run [VIDEO].

Wisdom’s blast also made Waveland:

Hey, David Ross! Wisdom’s hot! Let him play every day for a while and see what happens.

That was only the beginning of a huge inning. Miles Mastrobuoni singled and went to second on a passed ball. Nico Hoerner singled, with Mastrobuoni taking third, where he scored on this single by Suzuki [VIDEO].

Happ then doubled to make it 6-3 [VIDEO].

Suzuki took third, where he got caught in a rundown on a ground ball by Bellinger. Suzuki stayed in the pickle long enough for Bellinger to take second, with Happ stopping at third.

Yan Gomes then ran a 2-0 count before the Nats simply intentionally passed him to load the bases.

Mike Tauchman batted for Trey Mancini. His ground out made it 7-3 [VIDEO].

That again put runners on second and third, where Miguel Amaya brought them both in [VIDEO].

More runs might have scored in the inning, but as you can see in the clip, Amaya was thrown out trying to take second base to end the six-run frame.

Did I mention more runs? After Adbert Alzolay threw a scoreless eighth (though loading the bases on two singles and a walk), yes, the Cubs scored more runs. A lot more runs.

Paolo Espino, who was once a pretty good member of the Nats rotation, has been demoted to their bullpen and... well, we found out why.

Wisdom led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk. Mastrobuoni singled, his third hit of the game — the first three-hit game of his MLB career, it should be noted.

Hoerner singled in run number 10 [VIDEO].

Suzuki was next, and now it’s 11-3 [VIDEO].

That was Suzuki’s fourth hit of the game, his first four-hit game of the season and second of his MLB career. That was a real positive game for Seiya, here’s hoping it continues.

After Jared Young struck out, Bellinger walked to load the bases.

Gomes singled in the Cubs’ 12th run [VIDEO].

After that, Tauchman singled in a pair to make it 14-3 [VIDEO].

Another single by Amaya: 15-3 [VIDEO].

Wisdom walked to load the bases and this ground out by Mastrobuoni mate it 16-3 [VIDEO].

The 17th and final Cubs run scored on Hoerner’s third hit of the evening [VIDEO].

In all: Eight hits and eight runs in the eighth, after six hits and six runs in the seventh. The Nats bullpen has quite a few rookies, after Hunter Harvey and former Cub Carl Edwards Jr. hit the injured list, and it showed in this game.

The Cubs went 12-for-19 (!) with RISP, so the complaint department is definitely closed for this one.

Anthony Kay was entrusted with the 14-run lead in the ninth, and he issued a two-out walk before striking out Thomas to end the game [VIDEO].

It was a pleasure to see the Cubs bats explode like this. They absolutely have the talent to hit like this on a regular basis, though of course 17 runs isn’t going to happen every day. It’s a truism to say, “Save some of those runs for tomorrow!”, and of course baseball doesn’t work that way, but here’s hoping this sort of game starts the Cubs on a roll. You can only win one game at a time, but this one? Maybe this can start a winning streak.

Here are David Ross’ postgame comments [VIDEO].

And in case you wondered what the losing manager says after a game like this, here’s what Dave Martinez said about the Nats’ performance [VIDEO].

Here’s my scorecard from this game (for a larger version click here):

The Cubs will go for the series win Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and old friend Trevor Williams will go for the Nats. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.