Cubs starter Jameson Taillon finishes strong but falls to 0-2

“I felt a little robotic, not quite as aggressive,” the righty said.

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Cubs starting pitcher Jameson Taillon delivers during the first inning of Sunday’s game.

Cubs starting pitcher Jameson Taillon delivers during the first inning of Sunday’s game.

Matt Marton/AP

Jameson Taillon retired 10 of the last 13 batters he faced.

But that was after he felt “mechanical,” which led to much of the damage he suffered Sunday in the second inning of the Cubs’ 8-2 loss to the Rangers.

“I felt a little robotic, not quite as aggressive,” Taillon said.

Although a few of the hits Taillon allowed weren’t hit hard, he felt that he didn’t pitch with much intent until the latter half of his five-inning stint.

“Hitters can feel when you’re a little timid,” said Taillon, who still struck out seven.

Taillon (0-2) has walked two batters or fewer in 12 consecutive starts dating to Aug. 8, 2022, but he has allowed six hits or more in four consecutive starts dating to last season with the Yankees.

Morel on a mission

Manager David Ross saw a dejected Christopher Morel after he was informed last month that he wasn’t part of the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

“But his words were, ‘I’ll keep working. I’ll be ready,’ ’’ Ross recalled Sunday. “So that’s exactly what we expect.”

Morel has responded to the demotion by hitting .367 (11-for-30) with seven RBI and a .513 on-base percentage in eight games for Triple-A Iowa. He has settled in at third base after serving as a super-utility player during his 2022 rookie season for the Cubs.

There currently isn’t a spot for Morel on the major-league roster, but Ross said he has received encouraging feedback from the Iowa coaching staff.

“I know he’ll help us out this year by a long stretch,” Ross said. “I don’t know what capacity that is. None of us can see the future, but I know he’ll help us out. The fact that he’s swinging it well and has a lot of confidence bodes well for us.”

Slamming the brakes

Right-hander Michael Rucker is one of four relievers who haven’t allowed an inherited run to score while stranding at least five runners.

Rucker began his pro career as a starter for three seasons before converting to a reliever and fulfilling a variety of roles that he believes have enhanced his knack for working out of jams.

“The more situations I can get in and have success in, the better for me and for us,” Rucker said.

The other relievers who haven’t allowed an inherited run to score while stranding at least five are Dauri Moreta of the Pirates, Drey Jameson of the Diamondbacks and Andrew Nardi of the Marlins.

Injury updates

Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) will throw a bullpen session Monday in Arizona.

Left-handed reliever Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) will remain with Iowa on a rehab assignment through this week.

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