This Friday affair was marked by returns, with Rodón coming back to the hill after a long layoff on the injured list, which derailed his Yankees debut by a few months. And on the other side of it, Jameson Taillon took the mound in Yankee Stadium for the first time since he signed a four-year deal with the Cubs amidst a poor start to his year. In this battle of returns, Taillon got the last laugh, as the very solid outing by Rodón was overshadowed by the total and complete lack of firepower from the Yankees attack, which allowed Taillon to toss eight scoreless, one-hit innings.
Yeah, that’s right, the starter with the worst ERA in the entire National League rolled into Yankee Stadium, and pitched as if he was peak Greg Maddux, utterly dominating his former team. The offense has suffered some embarrassing lowlights of late, but regardless of how well Taillon performed on the night this rises near the top of their lackluster resume.
The Yankees definitely got the short end of the stick tonight when it comes to maximizing their hard-hit balls, with a total of 11 off Taillon, and just a single in the first inning. However, all of those hard hits won’t amount to much if they’re pounded into the ground. For instance, in the fourth inning Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton came up and both smashed balls at 109.9 and 107.3 mph, respectively, both groundouts, both with negative launch angles.
Aaron Boone was very coy ahead of this game about how deep into the outing Carlos Rodón would be allowed to go, and at the end of his evening, the southpaw threw an encouraging 69 pitches for 5.1 innings. He didn’t get to display much in terms of overpowering hitters, racking up just two strikeouts, but he did get batters to commit to some weak swings and forced plenty of quick outs.
After both pitchers exchanged a couple of scoreless innings, Cody Bellinger came up to bat hitting in the seventh spot against a tough lefty. Bellinger saw just two pitches and absolutely demolished a Rodón fastball, deep into the right-field stands.
A couple of innings later, Rodón had that one frame you might expect from a pitcher coming back from a lengthy absence where for a small stretch, control becomes a bit of an issue. Facing the bottom half of the Cubs order, Rodón walked two of the first three hitters of the frame, Trey Mancini and Miguel Amaya — the latter of which came on four pitches, all fastballs missing arm-side. With two outs in the frame, a groundball single from Nico Hoerner was enough to double the Cubs lead to 2-0.
Rodón would get out of the inning and return for the sixth, but after a Ian Happ single and Yan Gomes groundout, Aaron Boone made the call to the ‘pen, calling it a night for his southpaw. Ultimately, Rodón’s positive outing is severely soured by the lack of scoring from his offense, leaving him in line for the loss in his first Yankee start. Still, it was very encouraging to see him go out and attack hitters right away, working his way well into the game despite a considerably short leash on the night.
The Cubs would add one more insurance run before this was over, although it was not as though they needed it, on a seventh-inning RBI double from Patrick Wisdom, back in the eighth. After Taillon ended his outing, it was Adbert Alzolay earning the save for the visiting team.
Tomorrow’s matchup pits Gerrit Cole against Drew Smyly in a Saturday matinee on Amazon Prime Video with first pitch at 1:05pm ET. We’ll see if the Yankees ace can stymy this sudden losing streak and pump the breaks a bit before the first half wraps up.