Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (7/9/24): Cubs 9, Orioles 2 – Busch, Happ Blast Away in Balmy Baltimore

The Cubs jumped ahead early Tuesday night, riding a one-out Michael Busch homer in the 1st to a 58.1% win probability that they kept adding to all night. Despite sweltering conditions making their “performance fabric” jerseys look like they were playing in the rain, the road team managed to beat the heat with 14 hits. The only starter without at least one knock was Dansby Swanson, whose three strikeouts at least offered a cool breeze while pulling him closer to the Mendoza Line.

Unlike in most of their games over the last few weeks, the lineup didn’t need a contribution from its big-money shortstop. Ian Happ blasted his fifth three-run homer of the season out onto Eutaw Street, joining Jason Heyward as the only other Cub out of 127 total players to have accomplished that feat. The game was 7-2 at that point, providing more than enough cushion for Jameson Taillon and a revamped bullpen.

The starter went six innings with two runs allowed on four hits, one of which was a solo homer by Jordan Westburg, and a walk. Taillon also had seven strikeouts, giving him at least that many in three of his last four starts. Between the muggy atmosphere and a comfortable lead, Craig Counsell was able to pull Jamo at 88 pitches.

The bullpen took over from there, tossing three supremely efficient innings that featured one hit and no walks with two strikeouts. Of the 36 pitches tossed by the trio of Tyson Miller, Mark Leiter Jr., and Hunter Bigge, 28 went for strikes. Bigge was electric in his MLB debut, hitting triple digits and showcasing nasty breaking stuff with a curve and slider.

Between a homegrown reliever pumping gas, Busch collecting four hits, and Happ continuing to mash after fans DFAd him a month ago, this was a very satisfying game. And while it’s entirely possible the next two will go off the rails, it’s fun to just celebrate the moment. (Box score)

Key Moment

Happ’s homer more than doubled the Cubs’ lead in the 4th inning and effectively ended the night for Orioles starter Dean Kremer. That not only put the game on ice for all intents and purposes, but it also forced Brandon Hyde to get five innings from his bullpen on a very balmy evening.

Why the Cubs Won

They slugged, simple as that. Those two homers were enough to win the game even without the 12 other hits, making the 11 strikeouts seem inconsequential.

Stats That Matter

    • Miles Mastrobuoni collected two hits, raising his average nearly 30 points to .172 on the season.
    • Busch continues to pace the offense with an .838 OPS.
    • Swanson’s OPS dropped to .611 after an 0-for-5 night.

Bottom Line

A win against the best team in the AL should be celebrated, but this probably didn’t do anything for the Cubs’ season outlook. Barring a white-hot stretch of play into and out of the All-Star break, the front office will be selling at the trade deadline. The one wrinkle providing a sliver of hope, or maybe just postponing the inevitable, is that the draft has every team’s execs preoccupied.

On Deck

These teams are back at it again on Wednesday with another 5:35pm CT start that sees Shota Imanaga opposing old nemesis Corbin Burnes. As always, coverage can be found on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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