It appeared like it would be a very similar outcome for the Cubs on Sunday with a second consecutive ugly performance after an hours-long rain delay. Cleveland beat up on the consistently underperforming Jameson Taillon, but Chicago made a dramatic late rally to tie the game and send it to extras. The problem was they were not able to get over the hump and the Guardians pulled out the win.
The story Sunday was much the same as it has been all season for Taillon, with left-handed hitters continuing to feast on him. Second baseman Andrés Giménez turned around a fastball that was above the strike zone for a two-run homer in the top of the 3rd inning. David Fry increased the Guardians’ lead to 3-0 with an RBI groundout in the 4th.
The Cubs starter gave up a double to Giménez in the 5th that keyed a three-run rally. Amed Rosario brought home a pair with a single and then a Jared Young throwing error on a grounder to first brought in the final run.
Unlike Saturday’s game, however, Chicago battled back late against the Cleveland bullpen. Christopher Morel homered in the 8th inning to reduce the deficit to 6-2, then closer Emmanuel Clase ran into major trouble in the 9th. Trey Mancini singled in a run and first baseman Josh Naylor misplayed two ground balls in a row to load the bases with one out.
Morel served a base hit up the middle to plate a pair and cut the margin to 6-5, and Cody Bellinger followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Unfortunately, Naylor atoned for his defensive mistakes with the game-winning two-run single against Adbert Alzolay in the 10th. (Box score)
The Guardians’ three-run 5th inning did not feel decisive at the time but turned out to be very important. Taillon has had a problem all season long allowing runs late in his outings and the opponents’ insurance has often come back to cost the Cubs.
Why the Cubs Lost
It was an inspired effort to get back into the contest, but the hole was just a bit too deep and Cleveland outlasted them. The sloppy defense in the middle innings definitely cost them.
Stats That Matter
- Taillon doesn’t give his squad a very good chance to win and they are now 2-12 in games he starts: 5 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 6 K, and 0 BB.
- Morel made his first start of the season at third base and made a wild throw that demonstrates the work he still needs to do at the position. That said, he also had a homer and three RBIs so he should get a few more starts there to see if he can take over.
- Mancini had a pair of singles, so that is some progress.
Taillon has been an abject disaster in 2023 and his ERA is now at 7.07 through 14 starts and the Cubs have to consider moving him to the bullpen. That doesn’t mean he can’t go back in the rotation later in the year or in 2024, but he just can’t keep doing this every outing. As nice as it was to see Chicago fight back, it’s a sixth loss in the last seven games and things are rapidly slipping away.
The Cubs’ season probably comes down to a four-game series starting in Milwaukee on Monday against the first-place Brewers. Drew Smyly battles Julio Teheran in a contest beginning at 1:10pm CT with a broadcast on MLB Network (out of market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.