Taillon, Happ stay hot as Cubs blowout Orioles
Mitch Stringer - USA Today Sports

Taillon, Happ stay hot as Cubs blowout Orioles

by - Senior Writer -

BALTIMORE - In what looked like a David vs. Goliath matchup on paper, the Chicago Cubs (43-49) headed out East to Camden Yards to take on one of the games best, the Baltimore Orioles (57-34). However, if there was ever a game to steal in this series, Tuesday was that game, as the streaking Jameson Taillon took the ball against Dean Kremer.

Entering the game with five consecutive quality starts, Taillon continued his recent surge, making it six straight quality starts after allowing just two runs on four hits across six innings. He walked one and struck out seven as the Cubs offense jumped all over Kremer to pick up the 9-2 win.

The best way to pull off a massive upset, especially on the road, is to score as quickly as possible to take the crowd out of the game.

That is precisely what the Cubs did as they grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a Michael Busch homer in the second and scored in each of the first four innings to make things much easier for Taillon on the mound.

For Busch, the rookie has been on quite a roll lately as he picked up a career-high four hits and has now reached base in 27 straight starts.

Already with a 1-0 lead, the Cubs offense continued to keep the pressure on in the second as Ian Happ and Christopher Morel set the offense up with a pair of singles to start things off. The Orioles came close to escaping the inning without further damage, but with Miles Mastrobuoni working a one-out walk ahead of a Tomas Nido sacrifice fly, the Cubs managed to double their lead to 2-0.

In order to beat the Orioles, you need to shut down their high-powered offense, and two pitches into the bottom of the second, this was a 2-1 game as Jordan Westburg unloaded on a Taillon fastball and took it over the center field wall for the solo blast. Not to be outdone, the Cubs continued to keep the pressure on Kremer in the third, with Cody Bellinger reaching on an infield single and then coming home to score on a Seiya Suzuki single to put the Cubs back in front by two 3-1.

They would add an additional run later in the third as Dansby Swanson beat out a potential double play for a fielder's choice to help push home another run to make things 4-1. There weren't too many chances for the Orioles to cash in off Taillon, but with Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman starting the bottom of the third off with singles, this was the chance the Orioles were hoping for.

All it would take is one swing off the bat of Anthony Santander to tie things up, but instead, it was Taillon winning the battle as he got Santander to ground into a double play as the Orioles did manage to cut the lead to 4-2. That double play was especially crucial to Taillon's start as that was the beginning of a stretch that saw him retire the final 12 hitters he faced in order to help hand things over to the pen.

With Taillon doing his thing on the mound and shutting down the high-powered Orioles offense, the Cubs took it upon themselves to reward him for his effort with a massive fourth inning to blow things open. A leadoff hit by pitch to Nico Hoerner was a good start, but with Busch picking up a single, the Cubs had two on and no outs. Those two were still standing on base with two outs, only to have Happ come through with another massive hit as he launched a massive three-run shot to put the Cubs in front 7-2.

“This recent stretch, he's (Happ) been a big part of our offense,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said after the win. “The big swings and the big offensive moments in the game for us have really been delivered by Ian. And tonight was no different. That was a huge play to make it a 7-2 game and give you some breathing room. Big swing of the bat.”

Happ now has a team-high 55 RBIs on the season, but 41 of those have come in the team's past 38 games, as he is starting to carry this lineup offensively.

“The start that I had to the season wasn't what I wanted,” Happ said to the media. “But it wasn't going to last. To be able to kind of claw back into it and have some really good at-bats, I feel good about that.”

That was the brunt of the Cubs' damage in this one, as both bullpens appeared to have the upper hand, with Tyson Miller and Mark Leiter Jr. each tossing a scoreless inning after Taillon departed.

The same can be said for the Orioles early as their pen came in to relieve Kremer after four innings and held the Cubs offense in check until the eighth. That was until a pair of singles from Hoerner and Busch set the offense up again, only to have Suzuki add his second RBI hit with a double to push the lead to 8-2.

They would add an additional run in the ninth off a Hoerner grounder as the Cubs were three outs away from a massive win and leading 9-2.

That is when the fans got to see the MLB debut for Hunter Bigge who is coming off an impressive showing in AAA. For the Cubs to get back into the playoff race, should they be able to, they are going to need some of their young arms to step up, and Bigge looked great as he was consistently sitting in the 98-100 MPH range and recorded his first career strikeout in a scoreless ninth to lock down the Cubs 9-2 win.

Busch was a man on a mission. His four hits raised his average to .273, and he now leads the team in that category. Suzuki, Happ, and Mastrobuoni also had multi-hit games, and the Cubs pounded out 14 hits in the win. Wednesday will be an instant classic as Cy Young favorite Corbin Burnes takes the ball against the Cubs' lone all-star, Shota Imanaga.

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