Mike Tauchman robs would-be walk-off HR to cap Cubs’ 7th straight win

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The St. Louis Cardinals had a fly ball destined to be a walk-off home run. The Chicago Cubs had Mike Tauchman.

Advantage, Cubs.

Down 3-2 with a man on third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cardinals pinch-hitter Alec Burleson hit a ball 407 feet to center field. Cardinals fans rose from their seats and cheered as the ball flew threw the air, until Tauchman jumped up and robbed Burleson of the home run and the win. The catch of the year candidate gave the Cubs their seventh straight win.

Tauchman and Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay were understandably amped up as he got up, while their teammates poured out of the dugout to celebrate.

The Cardinals challenged the call on the field on the grounds that the ball might have hit the grass of the batter’s eye — they had no reason not to — but all the move did was confirm Tauchman had saved the game.

Another angle:

The play had been preceded by another defensive gem, in which Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson turned a smooth double play on Brendan Donovan when the Cardinals had runners on first and second with no outs.

Jul 28, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Chicago Cubs center fielder Mike Tauchman (40) reacts after making a game winning catch robbing a home run from St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Alec Burleson (not pictured) to end the game in the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tauchman and the Cubs are rolling. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Tauchman’s catch might have provided some déjà vu for San Francisco Giants fans, who watched him make a catch under similar circumstances against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was the Giants’ left fielder in 2021. That robbery of Albert Pujols wasn’t a walk-off play, though the Giants did end up winning.

In the time since that catch, Tauchman struggled until the Giants designated him for assignment, was outrighted to the minor leagues and played all of last season with the Hanwha Eagles in the KBO League. He signed a minor league contract with the Cubs last winter and eventually made it back to the big leagues in May, where he has been a pleasant surprise for the surging Cubs.

Tauchman is hitting .261/.360/.394 through 212 plate appearances, with some highlight reel defense. The 52-51 Cubs, 4.5 games back in the NL Central and 3.5 games back from a wild-card spot, are rumored to be rethinking selling at the fast-approaching MLB trade deadline, and they can thank Tauchman for making their decision a little bit harder.

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