'Kind of like a movie': How a walk-off home run capitalized a baseball journey for the Cubs' Mike Tauchman

The Cubs needed a moment on Wednesday. 

Mike Tauchman, with the pressure on, delivered against the White Sox as he walked to first base.

It was a terse 11-pitch at bat that included Tauchman fouling off six pitches before taking the 11th pitch for ball four. 

That walk helped key a three-run seventh inning to spark a comeback. Tauchman completed that comeback on his own with another, much more grand moment: his heroic walk-off home run to stun the Sox 7-6.

"I don't know if I've ever hit a walk off homer," Tauchman said. "I didn't really know what to do."

Wednesday proved how steadfast Tauchman is for this Cubs team.

Through 55 games so far this season, he's recorded 50 hits, 10 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 18 RBIs while batting .269 while cornering right field for the Cubs. 

His clutch gene was on display with his walk-off home run, but the trait that makes him one of the most important Cubs in the team's clubhouse: his preparation.

"He knows what the opposing pitcher's got, he knows how they're going to try to attack him," Tallion said. "There's no one more prepared and I feel really comfortable when he is up there."

Look no further than how Tauchman described his walk-off at bat, where he was facing the White Sox's Michael Kopech.

"He throws really hard. He's got great fastballs," Tauchman said, "In that situation, I personally feel like trying to be ready for anything else is foolish."

In the moment, Tauchman wasn't even thinking about a home run either. He was just hoping he could be in a position to score.

"I put a good swing on it, but you never know," Tauchman said. "I mean, I played regularly long enough to know you never know and I was just hoping it got over his head and I can get myself in scoring position."

It might have been the first walk-off home run of Tauchman's life, and it's a moment he's worked towards earning.

In his MLB career, Tauchman has played for the Colorado Rockies from 2017 to 2018, the New York Yankees from 2019 to 2021 before the Yankees traded him to the  San Francisco Giants during the 2021 season.

In July 2021, the Giants designated him for assignment. In 2022, Tauchman played for the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO League, the highest level of baseball in Korea.

The Cubs signed him to a one-year deal ahead of the 2023 season, where he endeared himself to Cubs fans by robbing the Cardinals' Alec Burleson of a walk-off home run.

On Wednesday, he got his own walk-off moment. His teammates understood the significance.

"A good dude, has bounced around, gone to Korea, so really cool to see him getting an opportunity and getting these moments for his hometown team," Tallion said. "I mean, it's kind of like a movie."

But, the Cubs aren't able to get there Wednesday without Tauchman's ability to extend at-bats.

Tallion provided the pitcher's perspective of an 11-pitch at-bat, which was something he enjoyed watching from the Cubs' dugout.

"They tried to change up and when you throw in like seven straight fastballs," Tallion said. "You probably lose a little bit of fuel. So, the baseball nerd inside me was enjoying watching that kind of cat-mouse game."

Counsell was impressed with the reservation Tauchman had in taking the walk, and not trying to make something that wasn't there.

"Just a great battle," Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. "It’s just impressive. The pitcher gets you into swing mode with a bunch of foul balls, and just to have the discipline to take. That was a huge at-bat in that inning."

Tauchman chalked that at-bat to his preparation, which was a part of his game that he forged while moving across three teams in the major leagues and one team in the KBO.

There's plenty that he's learned from his years as a pro, but those lessons came with patience at Tauchman's end.

"You find out what works for you," Tauchman said. "When you're a young player and you're new to the league, you're figuring out what routine you need and what you have to do. And as you get older, where can I fine tune things that are going to be more efficient and make the most use of my time?"

For the Cubs, Tuachman is making the most use of his time by being the dependable player a team with playoff aspirations can count on.

That player just had a milestone moment in his career playing for the team he grew up around in Palatine, Illinois. 

"I think every kid dreams of hitting a walk-off homer," Tauchman said. "So to have that moment, it’s special. It’s something that, when it’s all said and done, I’ll look back on it and I'll always have that and be able to smile about it."


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