Happ-y 4th: Happ has career day as Cubs blast Phillies
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Happ-y 4th: Happ has career day as Cubs blast Phillies

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO — Had I told you before the season started that the Chicago Cubs (40-48) would be eight games under .500 and 12 games out of first before the all-star break, you would've laughed at me. Well, here we are on July 4, and that is exactly the scenario the Cubs are in as they look to avoid the sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies (57-30) at Wrigley Field.

Part of the Cubs' struggles this season has been their inability to consistently hit for power or even hit at all, as their offense has been a mess. Given how baseball is played today, if you don't hit homers, there is a good chance you won't win, and right now, the Cubs aren't hitting for much slug.

Leave it to Ian Happ to change that as he connected for a pair of three-run shots, one from each side, while Jameson Taillon took off the rest in the Cub's 10-2 win over the Phillies. Say what you want about Taillon, but the bottom line is he has been as good as anyone in the Cubs rotation, and with a 2.99 ERA, he has the best ERA on the staff.

Taillon has been on quite a roll lately, and following his seven-inning start on Thursday, he now has five consecutive quality starts. He allowed two runs on four hits in those seven innings with seven strikeouts, as he and Tomas Nido seem to be on the same page so far.

“It’s a nice win,” Taillon said after the game. “Good teams do it often and come back tomorrow and play another good game, and then you start stacking good days. These days feel really good. Everyone should feel good about it tonight, and then you just wake up and come to the park, and it's like everyone's got a job to do again.

“Hopefully, we can start making that kind of a more consistent thing.”

Considering Christopher Sanchez was on the mound for the Phillies, the Cubs knew they would need a strong start from the big righty, and the Cubs capitalized on what was a rare rough outing for Sanchez, who was touched up for seven runs in four innings.

It didn't take the Phillies long to get the scoring started, as they needed just four batters to do so. Following a one-out single from Trea Turner, who eventually swiped second base, Brandon Marsh came through, as his RBI single gave the Phillies an early 1-0 lead. This was the game's only run until the fourth when Nicholas Castellanos unloaded on a Taillon heater and put it way back into the left field bleachers to give the Phillies a 2-0 advantage.

Castellanos loves to hit at Wrigley Field, and his 1.077 OPS over a 200-at-bat stretch is the highest mark in Wrigley Field history for visiting players. Although things weren't looking great early those were the only runs the Phillies would score as Taillon settled down to dominate the rest of his outing while the Cubs offense went on to finish the game with 10 unanswered runs.

Five runs came in the bottom of the fourth when Cody Bellinger led things off with a walk before a Seiya Suzuki single put two on with no one out. This was the second time the Cubs had an opportunity like this and unlike the first time when they didn't score, Happ took it upon himself to deliver the big blow of the game as his three-run shot put the Cubs in front 3-2 and would go down as the game winning hit.

Happ wasn't finished, as he went a perfect 4-4 on the day with two homers and six RBIs as he now leads the Cubs with 50 RBIs. With the fourth inning continuing, the Cubs kept the pressure on as the Dansby Swanson walk and David Bote double had a pair of runners in scoring position before the Tomas Nido grounder made things 4-2. Nico Hoerner capped off the massive inning with an RBI single as the Cubs opened up a 5-2 lead and never looked back.

With the lead in hand, the Cubs offense started to tee off on Sanchez and with Bellinger and Suzuki opening the bottom of the fifth off with singles the Cubs were looking to tack on even more runs. Leave it to Happ to be the major player in that as he connected for his second three-run shot in as many innings to give the Cubs an 8-2 lead as he homered from each side of the plate.

At one point in the game, Taillon was about as locked in as you can be as he retired nine straight heading into the seventh before the Kody Clemens single ended that streak. Taillon didn't let that bother him as he bounced back to retire the final hitter he faced to give the Cubs seven strong innings before handing things off to Drew Smyly and the pen.

With most of the Cubs damage coming in those two innings, all the Cubs the needed to do was to finish things off over the final two frames and with a one out Suzuki walk followed by a Happ double they were on the verge of adding one. Christopher Morel kept the line moving with a well-struck RBI single to bring home Suzuki, but with Happ getting thrown out at home on the same play, the Cubs headed to the eighth up 9-2.

Apart from the first inning, the Phillies didn't have many scoring chances against the Cubs, but with a one-out walk followed by a Bryson Stott single, the Phillies were threatening to pull a little bit closer off of Smyly in the eighth. Smyly recovered to strikeout the next two hitters he faced to escape the jam before Hector Neris came in to finish things off in the ninth for the 10-2 win.

Happ had his best game of the season for the Cubs as he went a perfect 4-4 with two homers and six RBIs in the win.

Everyone else in the lineup had at least one hit, minus Dansby Swanson, as the Cubs offense was as sharp as they had been since early May. Along with the six RBIs from Happ, you had Nido, Hoerner, Morel, and Bellinger grabbing RBIs, with Bellinger picking up the final run on an RBI Fielder's choice in the eighth.

“We’ve been looking for one of these for a while now,” Happ said after the career day. “Where we can go out there, everybody contributes and make it easy on the bullpen.”

Next up for the Cubs is the Los Angeles Angels as they head to Wrigley Field to open up a three-game set on Friday. Justin Steele will take the ball for the Cubs and is still search of his first win as he will oppose Griffin Canning.

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