WASHINGTON D.C. – The fact that he’s still with the Cubs in the middle of August is a surprise to many, since Ian Happ was expected to be traded at the deadline on August 2nd.
But the outfielder, who still has one year left on his contract, is still with the team and is productive as he completes his sixth season in the majors in Chicago.
Monday night was one of his best games at the plate this season as he hit a pair of homers for the first time in a game in the 2022 season against the Nationals. It’s the first multi-homer game for Happ since May 20, 2021, when he also hit two against Washington.
Unfortunately, his effort wasn’t enough to get the Cubs a victory, as the Nationals got the lead late in a back-and-forth contest to win it 5-4. Nelson Cruz’s solo homer in the eighth inning would be enough to send the Cubs to their second-straight defeat.
Happ’s solo shots came in the first and the fifth inning and helped the Cubs to an early 3-0 lead. The outfielder’s now at 12 for the year, and per the Associated Press, that puts him in good company. He becomes just the sixth switch hitter in MLB history to have 11 or more homers in his first six seasons.
Jose Cruz, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Ruben Sierra, and Mark Teixeira are the other to do so in MLB history. Happ was able to reach this mark even though he played in just 58 games in 2019 (11 homers, spent most of season in minors) and 57 in 2020 (12 homers, pandemic-shortened season).
The outfielder had a career-high 25 homers in 2021, which bested his total of 24 that he hit in his rookie season of 2017. Happ hit 15 homers in the 2018 season.
Unfortunately the Cubs’ 3-0 lead couldn’t hold up against the Nationals as they got four runs in the fifth inning. An error to start the inning by Zach McKinstry would open the door for Washington as starter Marcus Stroman then allowed back-to-back singles before getting his first out of the inning.
After allowing runs on a fielder’s choice and single, Stroman was pulled for Mark Leiter Jr., who allowed a two-run Cruz double that put the Nationals ahead.
Cruz would strike again after the Cubs tied the game in the seventh on a Seiya Suzuki single, hitting his ninth homer of the year off Brandon Hughes to give Washington the win in the first of a three-game series.