The Cubs should have lost Friday night in St. Louis. They were up a run and the Cardinals had a man on third when Alec Burleson launched a ball 407 feet to dead center for a walk-off homer. Until Mike Mickeyfickin* Tauchman glided through the outfield grass like a latter-day Jim Edmonds and timed his jump to steal the glory for himself and send the Cubs off with a win.
HOLY COW!! MIKE TAUCHMAN!
CUBS WIN! pic.twitter.com/K7nFdwZ8im
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 29, 2023
“It’s kind of like you have that internal clock or feeling of, ‘I’ve kind of got to go up now,’” Tauchman explained after the game. “And it kind of just coincided with the ball coming down. I didn’t know, I guess, that I was right at the wall until I kind of turned to catch the ball.”
“That moment doesn’t happen if Nico and Dansby don’t turn a phenomenal double play there,” the outfielder told reporters in the locker room. “That play was really hard and they make it look really easy, so just a huge defensive inning for the team. And Adbert’s been so good in so many spots this year and, once again, that’s a tough situation. He just beared down and made really good pitches.
“Just a total team effort, even the way we scored our runs today. Great win, it’s good to keep it going and there’s a lot of belief in this clubhouse.”
Perhaps even more so than their comeback against the White Sox on Wednesday night, Tauchman’s catch and the rally that allowed for it ignited a sense that this team might just be tinged with destiny. The Palatine native had entered in the top half of the inning as a pinch hitter for Trey Mancini and led off with a single to center that would have started a rally were it not for an ill-fated bunt attempt.
But if Miguel Amaya had actually laid one down properly, we’re not celebrating the wild finish. That’s the whole destiny thing at play.
Tauchman is now up to 1.0 fWAR on the season, good for a tie with Seiya Suzuki for sixth on the team. And he’s done it in just 54 games and 212 plate appearances, far fewer than anyone else ahead of him on the list. Not bad for a dude who was picked up on a minor-league deal and didn’t break camp with the big club. He’s since become an unlikely star and savior of sorts, just like Steve Buscemi’s portrayal of Danny McGrath in the iconic comedy Billy Madison.
Just a few days ago, it felt like the Cubs were going to keep stepping on rakes and beating themselves up. Now, after pummeling bad teams that just happen to be rivals — whether real or imagined — they’ve made a run at the division title feel very legit.
*This was how the TV edit of Do the Right Thing dubbed it back in the day.