Taillon struggles as Cubs fall to Phillies
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Taillon struggles as Cubs fall to Phillies


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - For the Chicago Cubs (37-40) to get back to .500, they must focus on winning one series at a time. That all starts with the Philadelphia Phillies (41-37) on Tuesday as the two teams kicked off their three-game set at Wrigley Field. Much like the Cubs, the Phillies have been playing some of their best ball lately and have started to make a move in the standings.

Whether it was the jet leg, Ranger Suarez pitching a gem, or just a game where the offense couldn't get anything going, the result was not what the fans were hoping for as the Phillies took game one 5-1. At some point, the Cubs will have to address their biggest problem in the rotation, which falls on free-agent acquisition Jameson Taillon. Signed to a four-year 68 million dollar deal, Taillon has struggled since the beginning of the season, posting an ERA north of 6.00 and showing no signs of going down.

Taillon was at it again as he allowed a pair of homers while getting through five innings, but was charged with five earned runs in the process. At some point, the Cubs will have to decide what to do with him, as this season has been a struggle at best for the big right-hander. Opposing Taillon was left-hander Suarez, who is pitching much better lately.

Oddly enough, he started to turn his season around after his last start against the Cubs, which you could make the case was his worst start of the season. It is amazing how much things have changed as Suarez gave the Phillies his best start of the season, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing one run. He walked one and struck out eight as the Cubs had no answers for him this time around.

It didn't take long for the Phillies to grab the lead as former Cub Kyle Schwarber led off the game with a double and then raced home on the Trea Turner RBI single. Turner was thrown out trying to stretch that single into a double, but the run was scored to put the Phillies in front for good. Taillon recovered nicely to finish the inning without further damage, but the Cubs offense had the bigger struggles early.

After Brandon Marsh took Taillon deep for the first of his two homers in the second, the Cubs found themselves behind 2-0 as that homer proved to be the game-winner. It was in the third inning when the Cubs grabbed their first on the Nick Madrigal single, but nothing came from that hit as the offense remained stagnant.

Following the brief struggles early in the game, Taillon started settling in, and it began to look like he was destined to make a rare quality start. That was until the fifth inning when the Wheels began to fall off as he put his team in an even bigger hole. Bryson Scott led the top half of the fifth off with a single, but it was Marsh delivering another punishing blow as his two-run shot extended their lead to 4-0. For Marsh, it was his second homer in as many at-bats as he had a massive night.

That homer was followed by a Kody Clemens double, and a Garrett Stubbs walk as the Phillies had two more runners on with no outs. With Taillon picking up a pair of strikeouts and on the verge of pitching out of the jam, it was another former Cub coming back to haunt his old team as Nicholas Castellanos cashed in with an RBI single to put the Phillies in front 5-0. It would be the final run of the game for them, but given how Suarez was throwing, this was more than enough.

Still, with one hit in the bottom of the fifth, Cody Bellinger put together his best game since returning from the IL as his two-out double put a runner in scoring position. Bellinger was left stranded at second as it would be up to the Cubs pen to keep things close. Michael Rucker did his part with a perfect sixth inning, followed by a strong three-inning showing from Javier Assad as the Cubs pen continued their strong run of success.

Despite the Cubs cooling off the Phillies offense, their offense was still stuck in neutral as Suarez kept the Cubs scoreless through seven. Once the eighth rolled around, you could see Suarez starting to tire, and you had to think this was the chance for the Cubs to make things interesting. Bellinger led the inning off with a single, followed by another Madrigal single two batters later to put two on with one out.

Given that this was the first time the Cubs had multiple runners on base, you knew they wanted to do something with it, as Nico Hoerner answered with the Cub's third single of the inning to make things 5-1. Looking to keep their comeback bid alive, Gregory Soto bounced back after allowing that hit to strike out the next two hitters as the Cubs wasted their best scoring chance of the night.

On for his third inning of work in the ninth, Assad started to show signs of fatigue in that inning as a pair of walks and a Clemens single had the bases loaded for the Phillies with one out. Fortunately, Assad was able to buckle down as he struck out Turner to end the threat without allowing any more damage. That momentum swing didn't matter as another, you guessed it, former Cub in Craig Kimbrel came in to finish things off as he allowed a Dansby Swanson single before locking things down for the 5-1 win.

Along with the four combined hits from Bellinger and Madrigal, the Cubs had two other hits as Swanson and Hoerner picked up those hits.

The Cubs will look to even things up on Wednesday when they send left-hander Drew Smyly to the mound against the Phillies Ace Aaron Nola. In his previous start against the Cubs earlier this season, Nola was on top of his game as he allowed two runs in seven innings while also striking out 10. The first pitch is set for 7:05.

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