Jameson Taillon, the top prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, made his first start for the West Virginia Power tonight since June 14th. Taillon had a two week lay-off due to a tight pectoral muscle. The injury coincided with the South Atlantic League All-Star Break, although the Pirates wanted to play it safe, and skipped Taillon the first time through the rotation coming out of the break. The long break resulted in a limit for Jameson tonight, with the right hander held to three innings or 50 pitches, whatever came first.
“Felt kind of rusty, just game-wise, competition wise. But I felt like I got after it real good,” Taillon said about his performance.
If Taillon felt rusty, he certainly didn’t show it. The 6′ 6″, 225 pound pitcher was dominant tonight, needing only 35 pitches to get through three innings. He struck out four, didn’t issue any walks, and the only hit came on a broken bat single. He was sitting 93-94 MPH with his fastball, and getting a lot of strikeouts with his curveball. In the second inning he got a swinging strike on a low and away curveball. In the third he used the curve to freeze the first batter of the inning for strike three.
“My stuff felt real good,” Jameson said. “Fastball, curveball felt great. Timing on the changeup was a little off, all the way through the bullpen and everything. But if I’m only going through the lineup one or two times, fastball/curveball will work for me for sure.”
His lone hit came in the third inning with one out, on a broken bat single up the middle. Had the bat stayed together, the hit might have carried to Mel Rojas. Jr. in center field for out number two. That didn’t matter, as Taillon got the next batter to ground in to a double play, ending his night.
“I felt like I established my fastball in big time. I felt like I had it in their head the whole time thinking ‘fastball in’. I was moving feet, backing off the plate,” Jameson said, about using his fastball to set up his successful curveball tonight. ”When I do throw that curveball, it makes it even better, makes them buckle. Drop it in for a strike, bounce it, all that. My curveball has been there for me pretty much all the way through.”
Taillon now has a 2.96 ERA in 45.2 innings in the South Atlantic League this year, along with a 41:4 K/BB ratio. When asked if the level has gotten any easier, Jameson explained how he’s gained confidence commanding his fastball:
“It’s tough pitching off your fastballs solely. Obviously I’m allowed to throw curveballs, but when they want you to work on something it’s tough. Especially in high school when I could blow it by guys, and here you’ve gotta move feet, you’ve gotta be able to open up the plate for your stuff. I feel like I’m starting to see results from it, and now I’m more confident.”
Taillon left the game with a 3-0 lead after three innings. West Virginia got their three runs in the first inning. Drew Maggi led off the game with a single for the second night in a row. That brought up Dan Grovatt, who belted a two run homer over the right field wall, giving West Virginia a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Justin Howard doubled, then scored on a Cole White single to make it 3-0.
West Virginia held the 3-0 lead until the fifth inning. Kevin Decker came on to relieve Victor Black, who pitched one inning in relief. Decker got two quick groundouts, then allowed two hits. A throwing error by Drew Maggi brought a run in, making the score 3-1.
The Power got an insurance run in the 7th, when Dan Grovatt drew a two out walk with the bases loaded, bringing in Kawika Emsley-Pai. However, the insurance wasn’t enough. Justin Ennis came on in the eighth inning, and gave up a run to make the score 4-3. Ennis returned in the ninth and quickly put two batters on with a single and a hit batter. After getting two outs, Ennis allowed an RBI single, which tied the score. West Virginia was unable to break the tie in the bottom of the ninth, and Ennis returned to the mound in the 10th. For the third straight inning, Ennis allowed a run, this time on a one out, RBI double. The Power were unable to come back in the bottom of the 10th, losing 5-4.
West Virginia takes on Lexington in the last of a four game series tomorrow. Tyler Waldron will take the mound for the Power. The game starts at 7:05 PM. I’ll be providing live coverage from the game, as well as a game story afterwards.
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