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Brewers 6, Cubs 2: First-inning woes

The Cubs have had trouble early in games this year.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Cubs have been outscored 75-67 in the first inning this year, and of those 75 runs allowed, 31 have been since the All-Star break. The latter number is the most in the National League.

Four of those scored off Jameson Taillon in the first inning. In hindsight, everyone could have gone home right then, because the Cubs scored just two of their own, both on solo homers, and lost to the Brewers 6-2 in the series opener on a gorgeous weather evening at Wrigley Field.

Why did this happen, Jamo?

Ross thought Taillon was a little too amped early, citing Wrigley Field’s atmosphere for a big game. Taillon agreed with Ross’ assessment.

“I didn’t in the moment really think, ‘Man, I’m so amped up right now,’” Taillon said. “But I definitely think if I were to look back at the delivery and just kind of the speed of everything, I would probably come back to you and say I was probably a little amped up subconsciously. I even felt in my warmups, it was coming out really hot and I felt like maybe I was moving a little fast and stuff.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes a four/ spot in the first inning to settle down and that puts us in a hole, allows their pitcher to just fill up the zone.”

Seems like someone might benefit from a visit to the team’s mental skills coordinator. In any event, presuming the Cubs shake this one off and head to the postseason, I know one pitcher who I wouldn’t start in a wild card series. (HINT: Taillon.) Of the 31 first-inning runs the Cubs have allowed since the All-Star break, 18 have come off Taillon and Drew Smyly.

Pretty much every Brewer who came to the plate in the first inning hit the ball hard off Taillon. Two of those baseballs left the yard, one by Christian Yelich leading off (109 miles per hour), another by Mark Canha (107 miles per hour), and even the two fly outs to center field were hit well (99 and 103 miles per hour).

The Cubs got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning thanks to this home run by Ian Happ [VIDEO].

Happ’s 16th of the year was just his fourth hit righthanded.

Taillon gave up another run in the second, unearned due to an uncharacteristic throwing error by Nico Hoerner. That was the second Cubs error in as many innings, the other in the first by Dansby Swanson. That made this the first game this year where those two both made errors. Hopefully, it’ll be the last.

After that Taillon settled down. He completed six innings, allowing nine hits and five runs (four earned), striking out six with no walks. That isn’t terrible, but it’s not good either, and the Cubs need better than “that isn’t terrible” from Taillon the rest of the year.

The only other Cubs run also came on a solo homer, from Patrick Wisdom in the fifth [VIDEO].

The homer was Wisdom’s 21st, giving him back the team lead. He has 74 home runs as a Cub, which ranks 44th in franchise history, one behind Henry Rodriguez, two behind Moises Alou.

Other than that, the Cubs didn’t get anyone else past first base. They had three other hits and a walk.

Smyly threw an inning in relief and allowed the Brewers’ sixth run on a pair of doubels. Jose Cuas finished the game by retiring all six hitters he faced.

Regarding Smyly: It seems clear the Cubs kept the wrong 2022 lefthander whose name ends in “y.” Wade Miley, a Cub last year, signed with Milwaukee for quite a bit less money than the Cubs gave Smyly, and has been quite a bit better.

Beyond that, I can show you a nice defensive play made by Nick Madrigal at third base [VIDEO].

Credit where it’s due: I didn’t think Madrigal could handle third base when the Cubs put him there in Spring Training. He’s been quite good, actually. Credit to him and the team for recognizing a need and filling it. Incidentally, props to Jeimer Candelario on the other end of that play.

This wasn’t the way the Cubs wanted to start this series. They fell to five games behind the Brewers with the loss. There’s lots of time left and the Cubs still do have five games remaining against Milwaukee, but now the last two games of this series take on a bit more urgency. In the wild card race, the Cubs maintained the second spot because the Diamondbacks and Reds both lost. The Cubs are half a game ahead of Arizona and two games in front of Cincinnati. The Reds’ loss was to the Giants, who moved to within one game of the Cubs in the wild-card hunt.

Tuesday’s Cubs/Brewers matchup at Wrigley Field will feature Justin Steele on the mound for the Cubs and righthander Corbin Burnes going for Milwaukee. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and nationally on TBS outside the Cubs and Brewers market territories).