Maddon's Hunch On Happ Sparks Cubs' Victory

Cubs infielder/outfielder Ian Happ is greeted by teammates after hitting a grand slam against the Athletics.
Photo credit Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Cubs completed a successful homestand Wednesday afternoon with the help of a player who has seen his baseball career resuscitated of late.

Ian Happ's grand slam highlighted a five-run fourth inning for the Cubs in a 10-1 win against the Athletics at Wrigley Field. The victory capped a 5-1 homestand that saw the Cubs vault back into first place in the NL Central, as they finished the afternoon with a 3.5-game lead in the division.

It also featured more strong play from Happ, who had spent nearly the first four months of the season at Triple-A Iowa after a demotion in spring training. Happ went 2-for-4 and is 6-for-10 with three extra-base hits in his past four games.

"My at-bats have been really good," Happ said. "I feel really comfortable up there, and I want to keep it rolling."

Happ's grand slam came off of A's right-hander Homer Bailey and broke a 1-1 tie. He's now hitting .320 since his arrival from Triple-A in late July.

On Wednesday, Happ was also tasked with playing second base, a position he hadn't started at in the big leagues since 2017. The unusual move was the latest attempt by Maddon to find production from a second base position that's been a black hole for the Cubs this season, and it paid dividends at least for a day. 

Happ had been working diligently with third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who's also the team's infield instructor, at second base. Maddon trusted that tutelage and Happ as well.

"Butter had been working with him a lot"," Maddon said. "He had done a lot of work there at Triple-A. When he came back to the team, he wanted to make sure I knew that he was very capable of doing that. The way he is swinging the bat now, we want to very creatively get him in the lineup and see how it plays."

Maddon plans to have Happ in the lineup plenty as the Cubs now visit the Reds for a four-game series starting Thursday.

"He is really not missing his pitch right now," Maddon said. "Ian has had a pretty good history in that city. He went to university there. You will see him play there."

The Cubs improved to 41-19 at Wrigley Field with the win. Their trouble has come on the road, where they're 21-33, the second-worst mark in the NL.

Chicago now embarks on a 10-game road trip to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

"I am excited about all of it," manager Joe Maddon said. "You are not going to get away from it. We have to do something to be better (on the road). Again, if I had a solid answer to it, you would have it by now. The team would have heard it by now. It's so frustrating to have the record we have at home and on the road. It's inexplicable. We have to do better on the road. We will try and get that done."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.