Taillon pitches a gem, then is pulled after 77 pitches as Diamondbacks beat Cubs 1-0
If the Cubs qualify for the postseason, they are going to need performances like the one Jameson Taillon turned in against Arizona at Wrigley Field on Friday.
The right-hander was all but untouchable, striking out nine while allowing no runs and 1 hit in 6 innings.
The Cubs' coaching staff is also going to have to make some tough decisions in October, including when to leave a guy in who's thrown only 77 pitches. On this day, manager David Ross elected to pull Taillon and went to the bullpen.
The move paid off at first, but Arizona scored a run off Jose Cuas in the eighth and the Diamondbacks prevailed 1-0. Arizona starter Zac Gallen (15-7) went the distance for just the second time in 112 career starts, allowing 3 hits and striking out nine while throwing 107 pitches.
The decision to yank Taillon was an odd one considering he'd thrown 89 or more pitches in his previous seven outings and tossed a season-high 109 against St. Louis on July 23.
So why pull him?
"He was done," Ross said tersely.
Why was he done?
"Because I chose to take him out of the game," Ross said. "That's kind of my choice, right?"
Sure. But usually guys with 77 pitches go a little longer. Can you expand a little?
"Uh, no. I don't need to explain," Ross said. "Thought he was done. Thought he pitched a phenomenal game. We've got a fully rested bullpen. Did a really nice job."
Look, it's tough to argue with anything Ross and/or the Cubs are doing of late considering they're 35-15 in the last 50 games.
It just seemed odd to take Taillon out during such a dominant outing. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, losing it when Corbin Carroll ripped a two-out single.
"I'm built up to throw as many pitches as they need right now," said Taillon, who lowered his ERA to 5.27. "But I also don't have all the information that they have and I don't know what my numbers are third time through (the lineup) and stuff like that.
"I'm sure they had a reason for it."
After Julian Merryweather struck out the side in the seventh, Cuas gave up a leadoff single to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., walked Gabriel Moreno and struck out Jordan Lawlar.
Mark Leiter Jr. came in and struck out Geraldo Perdomo, but Carroll's single to right field plated Gurriel. Umpires originally ruled RF Seiya Suzuki snared Carroll's laser, but Arizona won a challenge when replays showed the ball hitting the ground just before entering Suzuki's glove.
"Game of inches," Ross said. "In an environment like that, putting guys on base kinda comes back to bite you at times. A play just out of reach went their way today.
"Two really good pitching matchups. That's as good as I've seen J-Mo. He threw great."
Taillon has struggled to remain consistent all season. He had a 6.93 ERA after 14 starts, found a groove over his next six outings (2.17 ERA), then went mostly sideways from Aug. 13 to Sept. 3.
But then came Friday's beauty.
Now Taillon, who has struck out at least six batters in his last four starts, hopes to carry that performance forward in the final weeks.
"I've kind of come to the grips that my numbers aren't going to get to where I'm used to seeing them," said Taillon, who was 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA with the Yankees last season. "I've told myself multiple times this year, 'All that matters is my next start (and) keeping us in games.'
"We're in a playoff hunt right now. All that matters is my next start and all that matters for the team is winning. ... Just build off this one and hopefully I can help carry us through this month and push us over the top."