‘Now we go’: Jameson Taillon notches first victory as a Cub against Padres

In the Cubs’ 2-1 victory Friday, Taillon held the Padres to one run and three hits in 5 2⁄3 innings.

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Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jameson Taillon works against a San Diego Padres batter during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, June 2, 2023, in San Diego.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jameson Taillon works against a San Diego Padres batter during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, June 2, 2023, in San Diego.

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SAN DIEGO — Right-hander Jameson Taillon had three words for manager David Ross after the Cubs’ 2-1 victory Friday against the Padres:

‘‘Now we go.’’

Taillon was talking about himself after a rocky start to the season, but the Cubs as a whole could adopt the motto after a rough May.

The victory Friday came in their fourth consecutive one-run game. They won three of those, reversing an early-season trend. And they got Taillon on track. He held the Padres to one run and three hits and didn’t issue any walks in 5⅔ innings.

‘‘I love everyone here, and I love the staff and players,’’ Taillon said. ‘‘But I haven’t felt like a huge part of what we’re doing yet, just because I haven’t been pulling my weight. So it’s nice to contribute and be a part of a win.’’

Friday not only marked Taillon’s first victory with the Cubs, but it was the first time the Cubs won a game he had started.

Even when Taillon threw five scoreless innings against the Dodgers in mid-April, the Cubs lost a low-scoring game. He landed on the injured list with a strained groin before his next scheduled start and had a 10.90 ERA in his first five starts back.

‘‘Just grinding trying to find it,’’ Taillon said. ‘‘After you come to a new team and organization, you want to impress and you want to prove that you’re worth the commitment that they gave you. And I feel like up until this point, I haven’t been doing that.’’

The commitment was a four-year, $68 million contract Taillon signed during the offseason. The Cubs saw in him a strong track record and potential for growth.

From the Cubs’ perspective, how important is it that Taillon proves to be the player they thought he was?

‘‘I think he’s going to be,’’ Ross said.

First, however, the coaching staff and Taillon had to do a deep dive. When the Cubs reinstated right-hander Kyle Hendricks from the 15-day IL, they used his return to push Taillon’s previous start back a couple of days and give him time for extra side work.

They reviewed his pitch usage and focused on the decrease in four-seam fastballs and increase in cutters he was throwing. Entering Friday, he was throwing his cutter (26.1%) more often than his four-seamer (24.5%), according to Statcast.

‘‘When I’m pitching well, that four-seam is at the foundation of everything that I do,’’ Taillon said.

On Friday, 35% of the pitches he threw were four-seamers and 12% were cutters.

‘‘Just get back to who I am,’’ Taillon said. ‘‘Attack, find pitches that I can cut big parts of the plate to, just be aggressive with those, then everything else will play off of that. So still throw the cutter but make sure I have the four-seam going first. . . . Throw the strengths, then work everything else in after that.’’

That approach worked wonders.

Taillon’s performance was even better than his final line. Two of the three hits he allowed were infield singles.

The first was Fernando Tatis Jr.’s dribbler up the middle in the fourth that split second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson and got under Hoerner’s glove. Tatis was the first Padres batter to reach base against Taillon.

In the sixth, Rougned Odor led off with a short line drive into left-center for a single, took second on an error and advanced to third on a grounder. Then Xander Bogaerts chopped an outside fastball up the third-base line. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom let it roll, hoping it would curl into foul territory, but it stayed fair, enabling Odor to score.

In every other inning, Taillon faced the minimum three batters.

‘‘We always had confidence in him,’’ catcher Yan Gomes said. ‘‘But now we’re starting to see him having confidence in himself.’’

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