Jameson Taillon had the odds stacked heavily against him heading into Friday night’s start against the Yankees in the Bronx. Not only were the Cubs 2-12 in his previous 14 starts, but the organization had never won in Yankee Stadium. Even if the law of averages said something had to give, the circumstances of the series opener didn’t necessarily inspire confidence among Cubs fans.
So naturally, Taillon went out and shoved over eight innings to author one of the best starts of his career. The big righty allowed a hit to the second batter he faced, former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres, then retired 13 straight before issuing a walk to another former Cubs prospect, Billy McKinney. The only other baserunner over the first eight innings was Giancarlo Stanton, who Taillon appeared to have pitched around before getting Harrison Bader to ground into a double play.
It was a tremendous effort by any account, as Taillon needed just 101 pitches to mow through his opponents. He struck out four and got 11 outs on the ground, which was the real key to his performance. It’s even better in light of his previous work this season, but the outing becomes borderline ridiculous when additional context is applied.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Taillon became the first pitcher to go at least eight innings with one or fewer hits allowed since the Orioles’ Daniel Cabrera in 2006. In case your math is a little rusty, that’s a span of 17 years. Only two other pitchers have accomplished that feat since 1990: Bartolo Colón in 2000 and Pedro Martinez in 1999. And since “new” Yankee Stadium was opened in 2009, Taillon is the only pitcher ever to do it there.
Jameson Taillon is the first pitcher with at least 8 IP & 1 or fewer hits allowed on the road at Yankee Stadium since the Orioles' Daniel Cabrera in 2006.
Only 2 other pitchers have done this since 1990, Bartolo Colon in 2000 & Pedro Martínez in 1999. pic.twitter.com/dTdKtz2bQA
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 8, 2023
Overall, we’re looking at four times in 34 seasons. To put that in a little better perspective, Yankee Stadium has hosted two perfect games in the last 35 years (David Wells on May 17, 1998 vs. Twins; David Cone on July 18, 1999 vs. Expos). The Rays have been victims of three perfect games in the last 15 seasons (Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009; Dallas Braden on May 9, 2010; Félix Hernández on August 15, 2012).
This isn’t to suggest Taillon’s performance was in keeping with a perfecto, far from it, just that it’s very impressive in its rarity. Based on his game score of 87, this was the third-best start of his career behind a two-hitter against the Rays last year and a one-hit complete-game shutout of the Reds when he was with the Pirates in 2018. One could easily argue that this start was better than either of those due to the venue and other circumstances, but there’s no need to split hairs.
I don’t know if this is the start of a better-late-than-never turnaround for Taillon, but the Cubs are going to be a lot more fun to watch if he’s rediscovered his groove.
Ed. note: Can’t wait to see Facebook flip out over the headline.