With the Chicago Cubs in a postseason chase, Jameson Taillon must rebound from his worst outing in more than a month.
Considering his history of dominance against the visiting Kansas City Royals, the right-hander might be in a good position for a bounce-back in the opener of this three-game series on Friday.
In the mix for the National League Central title and a wild-card spot, Chicago won for the 19th time over a 27-game stretch when Christopher Morel delivered a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 4-3 victory over the crosstown-rival White Sox.
“Games like this, pull those out when it wasn’t looking good for most of the game, that’s when you know you’ve got (a special team),” said Nick Madrigal, who hit a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning Wednesday to get the Cubs within two runs.
The Cubs have won 11 of their past 15 at home, but are just 5-5 against the American League Central overall in 2023. However, Taillon (7-7, 5.71 ERA) has yielded just two runs — one earned — with 17 hits and seven walks, while striking out 29, over 25 1/3 innings in going 1-0 through four career starts versus Kansas City. Three of those starts came in the past two seasons while with the New York Yankees.
Taillon was 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA during a six-start stretch from July 7 to Aug. 8, then allowed a season-high eight runs, plus eight hits, over three-plus innings, during Sunday’s 11-4 loss at Toronto.
“I don’t think anything really felt different per se,” Taillon said. “But, I also don’t want to just push it aside and move on. “See if there’s anything I do need to change.”
Despite Taillon’s career success versus Kansas City, MJ Melendez is 2-for-2 with a double against him.
The second-year catcher/outfielder is batting .436 (17-of-39) with three homers and seven RBIs in his last 10 games for the Royals, who are 45 games under .500.
The Royals‘ Bobby Witt Jr. is hitting .392 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in his last 23 games. Meanwhile, ex-Cub Nelson Velazquez is 8-for-23 (.348) with four homers and five RBIs in his last six contests.
“Our offense is really, really rolling,” Melendez said. “Really just putting the pressure on.”
However, the Royals just dropped three in a row after winning the series opener against Seattle, and are allowing an average of 6.1 runs during their current 3-9 rut.
Acquired from Texas in late June, Cole Ragans (3-4, 4.21 ERA) is slated to make his fifth start for Kansas City. The left-hander allowed two earned runs over 17 2/3 innings of his first three with the Royals, then yielded four, with seven hits and four walks, in five innings of a 5-4 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.
“I don’t think his stuff was down at all,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “The misses didn’t look bad, either. They were just all around the zone essentially.”
Ragans pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief over two outings against the Cubs, with Texas in April. Chicago’s Cody Bellinger went 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Ragans earlier this season.
However, the resurgent Bellinger is batting .427 with six homers, eight doubles, 23 RBIs and an OPS of 1.155 in his last 25 home games.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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