Let’s begin this recap of the Cubs’ 20-9 win over the Reds with this fun fact, sent to me by BCB’s JohnW53, about the franchise record-tying seven home runs the Cubs hit Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field:
The Cubs had not hit seven homers in a game since a 23-6 demolition of the Padres on May 17, 1977. They had hit seven only twice before that: June 11, 1967 while beating the Mets, 18-10, and August 19, 1970, while beating the Padres, 12-2. All three games were at home.
So... it had been a while since the Cubs hit this many homers in a game, more than 46 years.
The fun all started in the first inning. After Justin Steele retired the first three Reds in order, the Cubs started blasting Reds starter Ben Lively.
Mike Tauchman led off with a single and went to third on a single by Nico Hoerner. Hoerner then stole second and on that steal, Tauchman scored on a wild throw [VIDEO].
Ian Happ then walked, and Cody Bellinger made it 2-0 [VIDEO].
The Reds got a pair back in the second when Steele was uncharacteristically wild, making two wild pitches, and then Jeimer Candelario made an error on a ground ball.
The Cubs got those two runs right back. Tauchman walked leading off the second and two outs later, Bellinger mashed a baseball off the right field video board [VIDEO].
Look what that did!
The board was back to normal a couple of innings later.
The Cubs put three more on the board in the third. Candelario led off with a single and one out later, Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch. After Tucker Barnhart flied to left, Tauchman smashed his sixth homer of the year, oppo [VIDEO].
So it’s 10-2 after three. The Cubs made it 13-3 in the fourth, thanks in part to another long ball. Bellinger singled with one out, and Swanson hit his second of the game [VIDEO].
Both of Swanson’s homers were basket shots, but... they count just the same.
Candelario followed with a double, his third hit of the game. One out later, Madrigal doubled him in [VIDEO].
Steele was touched up for another run in the fifth and two in the sixth. It wasn’t a great outing for Steele, but given all the runs it didn’t need to be. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six.
The Cubs put even more on the board in the seventh, helped by home runs five and six of the night. With one out, Hoerner was next to go deep [VIDEO].
After a double by Happ and a fly to right, the Reds tossed in the proverbial towel and put catcher Luke Maile on the mound to face pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom.
Off a position player? Sure, but just like the basket shots, they count.
Hayden Wesneski relieved Steele and walked the first hitter he faced on four pitches, but after that retired six Reds in a row, a good outing for him.
The Cubs hit the 20-run plateau with a four-run eighth off Maile. Christopher Morel led off with a double, so every Cub in the game had at least one hit. He took third one out later on a single by Barnhart, and Tauchman hit this sacrifice fly [VIDEO].
That’s four RBI for Tauchman, the most he’s had in a game as a Cubs and it matched his career high. Silly fact related to Tauchman: On July 16 I bought a Tauchman jersey bearing the London Series patch from Cubs Authentics. I was wearing this jersey at the game on Tuesday. Since I bought the jersey Tauchman is batting .375/.446/.646 (18-for-48) with four doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI and 13 runs scored. Oh, and a game-saving catch. Coincidence? Sure, but fun.
Anyway, the sac fly was followed by a single by Hoerner. Morel, who had been the DH, went to left field in the eighth so the pitcher’s spot replaced Happ in the batting order. Miguel Amaya batted for Wesneski and hit the record-tying seventh Cubs home run [VIDEO].
Had the score remained 20-5, as it was after that home run, it would have been the exact reverse of a blowout the Reds had over the Cubs in Cincinnati, May 26, 2022.
But it wasn’t, and here’s where I open the complaint department door just a bit. Anthony Kay entered the game to finish things off in the ninth. He recorded the first two outs on just four pitches. The first of those outs was this slick play by Hoerner [VIDEO].
That’s good! What followed was not. Nick Senzel worked an 11-pitch at-bat off Kay and walked. Then Kay allowed two straight hits, another walk, and another hit that plated four runs before he finally got Tyler Stephenson to pop up to end the game [VIDEO].
Kay’s ERA was a reasonable 3.48 entering this game. Now it’s 6.35 and he has allowed seven runs over his last three appearances for an 18.90 ERA in those games. Yikes. This points out the real need for another lefty in the bullpen. I have to assume Jed Hoyer was looking for one before the deadline, but didn’t find one available at a price point (in prospects) he considered reasonable.
That’s all fair and good, and now the Cubs will have to look to Triple-A Iowa for some lefty relief help. It might be time to give Bailey Horn a shot in the big leagues, although his walk rate in the minors this year is ghastly (5.2 per nine innings). The only other lefty in the Iowa bullpen who is currently available is Brendon Little, who hasn’t had a good year and who also has a high walk rate.
Now the complaint department door is closed. The Cubs offense showed what it can do on its best days in this one, with all those home runs — but also 14 other hits. Candelario, in his Cubs “re-debut,” had four of them, so we’ll excuse the fielding error. He hadn’t played first base in two years and probably needs a bit of work there, and should do it because:
David Ross said Candelario will play a “significant” time at first.— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) August 1, 2023
Sure, that’s fine, but as we saw with Trey Mancini’s time at first base before he was DFA Tuesday, defense at that position matters.
Returning for a moment to the three other games in which the Cubs hit seven home runs, here are the players who did that (boxscore links above):
June 11, 1967 (second game): Adolfo Phillips (three), Randy Hundley (two), Ron Santo, Ernie Banks
August 19, 1970: Jim Hickman (two), Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Joe Pepitone, Johnny Callison, Glenn Beckert
May 17, 1977: Larry Biittner (two), Steve Ontiveros, Gene Clines, Bobby Murcer, Jerry Morales, Dave Rosello
One more note: This was the fourth 20-9 game in MLB history — and second in Cubs history! Here’s the entire list:
Last note for this game: Reds starter Ben Lively allowed 13 earned runs in four innings. That was just the 61st time in the Modern Era (since 1901) that a pitcher had allowed at least that many earned runs in a game, the first time since 2011 and just the seventh time in the last 75 years. Here’s the entire list, if you dare.
The Cubs evened up the series with the Reds and moved back to four games behind them (three in the loss column) and are 3½ games out of the third wild card spot. They’ll go for two in a row over the Reds Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Drew Smyly returns to the rotation and takes the start for the Cubs, and Brandon Williamson will go for Cincinnati. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.