Jameson Taillon pitches 6 strong innings as Pirates stay hot with win
Jameson Taillon channeled any lingering angst he had from the end of his previous start and threw it for a curve.
Relying heavily on a crisp curveball, Taillon had a career-high 10 strikeouts over six strong innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Pirates beat the National League’s best team, 6-3, for their fourth win over their past five games.
“I wanted to get the curveball involved. It’s never too early to get it involved,” Taillon said. “Once I saw that it was coming out to play, it was a solid one tonight, (and) that was kind of the go-to for the rest of the night.”
Taillon set an early tone when he struck out two in the first inning, including All-Star Christian Yelich on a 3-2 curve. Taillon got five more third strikes via the curveball, including two in the fifth, when he worked out of a two-on, no-outs jam by striking out the side.
That elicited emotion from the typically serene Taillon. A nod to the frustration he had from his most recent outing, perhaps?
Taillon (6-7) on Saturday was open about being irked he was pulled after his 77th pitch and after allowing his third, fourth and fifth hits of his outing. On the next pitch after he had been pulled, Jorge Alfaro doubled in a run, and the Pirates (and Taillon) ultimately lost.
“We had good conversations and moved past it,” Taillon said. “If anything, I felt like I had some things click last game and I wanted to kind of forget the ending of that game and move on and remember the things that clicked and felt good and carry those in. I had a good side session, and it carried over well.”
Twenty-four of Taillon’s 33 curveballs Thursday were strikes, and only five of which were put in play. Six of the Brewers’ 12 swinging strikes against him were on the curve.
Taillon’s lone mistake Thursday was an 86 mph, middle-middle slider to slugger Jesus Aguilar, who drilled it over the fence to the deepest part of PNC Park in left-center.
Other than that, Taillon allowed three singles and two walks.
”His last few starts have been really good,” said Josh Harrison, who reached base four times and had a run and an RBI. “I’ve got the perfect vantage point at second base seeing in, out, down, curveball working. I knew from the first inning it was going to be a special night for him.”
Taillon has allowed three or fewer earned runs during each of his past nine starts, posting a 3.29 ERA and 55 strikeouts over 54 2 ⁄ 3 innings in that time. The 10 strikeouts are a season high for any Pirates pitcher.
Each of Jordy Mercer’s first three at-bats resulted in RBI singles, the latter of which driving in two. Three batters later, he scored on Starling Marte’s single. Mercer had four RBIs for the fourth time in his seven-year career.
Richard Rodriguez and Tyler Glasnow each tossed a scoreless inning, but Michael Feliz ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing four of the five he faced to reach (two of them scores) and necessitating the use of closer Felipe Vazquez.
Pitching for the fifth time in six days and entering with the bases loaded against the middle of the Milwaukee lineup, Vazquez induced a game-ending double play from Aguilar to earn his 21st save.
The Pirates (44-49) are 4-1 since general manager Neal Huntington’s “The optimism has turned to realism” comments in regards to the franchise’s approach leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.