The Cubs began a 10-game road trip Friday night in San Diego with a starter who hadn’t yet won a game facing one who may have been the best pitcher in baseball over the last month. The North Siders’ pitching staff was on their collective game, however, and they were able to make a one-run lead hold up for a victory in a low-scoring affair.
Jameson Taillon looked better than he has all season and was perfect through the first three innings of the game. Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson hit back-to-back singles off of Michael Wacha with one out in the top of the 3rd inning, then Ian Happ grounded into a force out to second base to bring home Hoerner with the first run of the night.
Swanson provided what would turn out to be critical insurance when he homered into the front row of the left-field bleachers in the top of the 5th. Taillon ran into some trouble in the 6th when Rougned Odor doubled and came in to score on a perfectly placed infield hit down the third-base line by Xander Bogaerts.
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Chicago’s bullpen got the final out of that inning and was able to protect the 2-1 edge over the final three frames. Mark Leiter Jr. bounced back nicely from his rough outing Wednesday, striking out the side to earn the save. (Box score)
Adbert Alzolay entered the game with runners on first and second and nobody out in the bottom of the 8th inning. He coaxed Bogaerts to hit a double play ground ball to Patrick Wisdom at third base and then punched out Fernando Tatis Jr. on a nasty slider to escape the jam.
Why the Cubs Won
They kept a struggling but very dangerous Padres lineup at bay all night on Friday. The pitchers were under a tremendous amount of pressure because the offense could do almost nothing, yet they were still able to come through.
Stats That Matter
- This was Taillon’s best effort of the season and he could’ve (that’s the correct version of “could of” in case you were wondering) gone longer, but it was smart to pull him: 5.2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 3 K, and 0 BB.
- Swanson had three of the four Cubs hits on Friday.
- Mike Tauchman drew a pair of walks and put up several good at-bats. He did make an error in center field that gave San Diego a scoring chance, but Alzolay bailed him out.
- The Cubs’ last three wins have all been by one run.
Perhaps the Cubs’ luck in tight games is starting to turn around, or at least even out a bit. The offense is going to need to step up and give a little bit of help at some point. That said, it’s nice to see signs of life from at least some of the people in the ‘pen. Maybe, just maybe, the relief circle of trust can start to grow a bit for David Ross.