Cubs snap losing streak, but Gomes leaves with head injury

Getting swept in three straight 1-run games by the Marlins wasn't pleasant, but it's no reason to panic.

The Cubs might have inched closer to panic mode Monday in Washington when catcher Yan Gomes was forced to leave the game early. Gomes was struck in the head by the bat of Jeimer Candelario when he took a big backswing in the first inning. Gomes had an at-bat and struck out in the top of the second, then left the game due to the head injury.

The Cubs won the game with ease 5-1, snapping the three-game losing streak. Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ homered, while Drew Smyly stayed in cruise control, completing 7 innings on just 84 pitches.

After the game, the Cubs said Gomes was not in concussion protocol and would be reevaluated Tuesday.

"He's been hit a lot lately," manager David Ross told reporters after the game. "A couple of backswings got him in Florida, then even going back to the Dodgers series. He'll get looked at by the doctors."

The timing of Gomes' injury was not ideal, since the Cubs just designated Luis Torrens for assignment on Saturday when they brought up pitcher Caleb Kilian for a spot start.

To bring another catcher onto the roster, the Cubs will either have to put Gomes on the 10-day injured list or move someone else off the roster. Chicago baseball insider Mark Gonzalez reported Miguel Amaya was on his way from Double A Tennessee to Washington. Amaya makes sense as a potential backup catcher because he's already on the 40-man roster. Once one of the Cubs' higher-rated prospects, Amaya missed most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He appeared in 28 games for Tennessee late last season as a DH. This year, he's played 11 games at catcher.

Ross was noncommittal about the need for a roster move involving Gomes.

"We'll check him (Tuesday) and plan accordingly," Ross said.

Gomes has been one of the team's most valuable players. A few days ago, the Cubs were 11-2 in the games Gomes started, then lost three in a row. Gomes is hitting a career-high .299 with 5 home runs, while fellow catcher Tucker Barnhart is hitting just .200.

Barnhart did collect a double, his first extra-base hit of the season, on Monday after taking over for Gomes. Smyly credited Barnhart for calling a smart game behind the plate.

"Today me and Tucker got in a really good groove in the middle to later innings," said Smyly, who has posted a 1.83 ERA in his last five starts. "I started using my cutter a lot and they played really well for us to get those quick ground outs, got a double play with it. We kind of flipped the game plan and it worked out."

While the Cubs went 3-7 in the previous 10 games, three hitters in particular were slumping. Swanson hit .200 in those 10 games, Seiya Suzuki .205 and Patrick Wisdom .194

Suzuki got on track right away Monday with an RBI single to score the Cubs' first run. With two outs in the first, Cody Bellinger singled and stole second, scored on Suzuki's hit, then Trey Mancini followed with a double to make it 2-0.

Swanson provided some cushion with a 2-run homer in the fifth, then Happ add a solo shot in the ninth.

Pitcher Jameson Taillon, who has missed two starts with a left groin strain, is planning to throw a high intensity bullpen session on Tuesday. His spot in the rotation arrives in the finale of this series on Thursday afternoon.

There are developments in the quest to build pitching depth. Kyle Hendricks is set to make his second start for Iowa on Tuesday in Columbus. Hendricks was tagged for 6 runs in less than 2 innings in his first Iowa start.

Meanwhile, right-hander Ben Brown is expected to make his Triple A debut for Iowa on Wednesday. In four starts for Double A Tennessee, Brown posted a 0.45 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 20 innings.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ (8) runs to their dugout after scoring a home run during the ninth of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2023. Associated Press
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Drew Smyly throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2023. Associated Press
Chicago Cubs' catcher Tucker Barnhart (18) and pitcher Brad Boxberger (25) walk on the field after winning a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2023. Associated Press
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