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Chicago Cubs drop series opener 6-2 as NL Central-best Milwaukee Brewers pounce on Jameson Taillon in 1st inning

Jameson Taillon’s first season in Chicago has largely not played out how he and the Cubs envisioned.

Lately he has pitched more like the version both sides hoped for when he inked a four-year, $68 million contract in the offseason, posting a 3.98 ERA and pitching into the sixth inning in eight of his last nine starts. Taillon knows the rotation is a big factor in what happens in the final month of the season as the Cubs try to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2020.

“I feel like it’s a cliché, but starting pitching sets the tone for everything,” Taillon told the Tribune over the weekend. “So if we want to make a push and want to go where we’re trying to go, I feel like it starts and ends with pitching in general, but starting pitching always sets the tone.

“For myself, I feel the ship has sailed as far as getting my numbers where I want them to be this year, and I’m not worried about it. All I’m worried about is my next X amount of starts and the team winning. That’s where we’re all at. When you’re in a race, nothing matters except winning that game, so go out there and keep the team in it, compete, let the offense do their thing, let the defense do their thing and try not to put the team in a hole.”

Unfortunately for Taillon and the Cubs, the veteran right-hander immediately put them in catch-up mode Monday against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Christian Yelich sent the third pitch of the game, a 95 mph fastball down and in, to the center field bleachers after Taillon fell behind 2-0. It was the beginning of a four-run inning with Rowdy Tellez (sacrifice fly) and Mark Canha (two-run homer) contributing to Taillon’s woes.

Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have allowed 31 runs in the first inning, the most in the National League and fourth most in the majors. Taillon and Drew Smyly have been most responsible for those first-inning runs, giving up nine each in the first inning during that span. Early home runs have also been a bit of a problem throughout the season, and the Cubs were tied for seventh-most in the opening frame with the Royals and A’s — before the Brewers went deep twice off Taillon in the first.

Although Taillon settled in, allowing one unearned run in the next five innings, the offense couldn’t get much going against former Cub Wade Miley in a 6-2 loss to drop them five games behind Milwaukee in the division race.

“Definitely the first two or three (innings) I felt like I was making some pretty good pitches and they’re still driving them, some cutters down and away to righties that were hit harder than I’m used to so maybe that’s just a game plan thing looking hard down and away, which tells me maybe I need to pitch in more or up more, whatever it is,” Taillon said.

“But I thought the last few innings were a lot better, but it was definitely happening kind of quick there early.”

Two of the Cubs’ four hits off Miley were two-out home runs by Ian Happ and Patrick Wisdom in the first and fifth innings. Aside from the solo homers, the Cubs (69-62) did not have a runner advance to second base, only producing four singles and a walk.

Errors by Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner on tough plays they usually make didn’t help Taillon. Hoerner’s throw that got by first baseman Jeimer Candelario skipped into the Brewers’ dugout, allowing Yelich to reach on a two-out infield single and advance to second on the throwing error. He scored on William Contreras’ single to extend the Brewers’ lead to 5-1 in the second inning.

“When we play clean, solid defense — they did that, we didn’t, two really good teams going at it,” manager David Ross said. “That’s kind of the story of the game.”

Ross thought Taillon was a little too amped early, citing Wrigley Field’s atmosphere for a big game. Taillon agreed with Ross’ assessment.

“I didn’t in the moment really think, ‘Man, I’m so amped up right now,’” Taillon said. “But I definitely think if I were to look back at the delivery and just kind of the speed of everything, I would probably come back to you and say I was probably a little amped up subconsciously. I even felt in my warmups, it was coming out really hot and I felt like maybe I was moving a little fast.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes a four/ spot in the first inning to settle down and that puts us in a hole, allows their pitcher to just fill up the zone.”

Falling behind in the count led to the Brewers’ two first-inning homers. Taillon should be aggressive and land strikes early otherwise he exposes himself to fastball-friendly counts. He doesn’t feature the type of swing-and-miss stuff that lets him try to get hitters to chase in those spots. They know Taillon needs to get back in the zone in 2-0 counts, which set up Yelich and Canha to punish his four-seam fastball.

Going into the outing, Taillon thought he could go after the Brewers’ lefties with backdoor cutters. The pitch wasn’t effective early and when his curveball’s effectiveness was unreliable, it left Taillon vulnerable to damage until he was able to adjust with catcher Yan Gomes.

“I feel like a completely different guy when I’m ahead in a count and I feel like I have a ton of options and I can do a lot of things really well,” Taillon said. “When I’m behind in a count, especially like 2-0, 3-1, that sort of situation, I feel like I’m almost kind of pigeonholed into like to throw something hard over the plate. I just get really frustrated when I put myself in that spot to begin with.

“Tonight is a great example you just don’t have time to figure things out on the fly against a really good team that takes advantage of missed opportunities.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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