For the second time this season I had a chance to see Jameson Taillon pitch in Lakewood. Back on June 9th he threw 4 shutout innings allowing just one base runner which came off a broken bat single in what he told me was his best pitch he threw of the night. Tonight in Lakewood, just under two months later he looked like a totally different pitcher as the Power won 4-3 in comeback fashion.
Taillon still had the same velocity as last time, probably a tick higher as he hit 96 three times tonight and he topped out at 95 last time. The difference was his command as he threw just 36 of 67 pitches for strikes. Last time he got through 4 innings on 44 pitches but was shutdown due to the rain. This time he had reached his pitch limit by the 4th inning due to three walks. That part was surprising as he had just 11 walks in his first 17 starts combined.
He gave up three runs in the 2nd inning and all the base runners came with two outs as he retired the first 5 batters he faced(The first hitter reached on a weak infield single but was erased on a DP). After a triple by Zach Collier he walked former Pirates draft pick Cameron Rupp who he had down in the count 0-2. Maikel Franco then hit the 2nd pitch he saw for a 3 run homer to LF.
Here is where I will give Taillon a bit of a break on his outing. Franco is an 18 year old just called up to A-ball for the first time in his career. He was able to turn on a chest high 96 MPH fastball for a home run which makes me think he was guessing all the way and gearing up for the pitch. Minor leaguers don’t pull that type of pitch,most would swing under it or foul it straight back. Franco was 0-7 in the series coming into that AB and he had 4 previous career homers in two seasons.
What you can’t give him a break on is the lack of control he had with all of his pitches and now since the all-star break he has made 8 starts and he has a 6.52 ERA and a .302 BAA.
Taillon was followed by Casey Sadler, who pitched two impressive innings allowing just an infield hit. He was throwing much harder than I saw last time to the point where his off-speed pitches were sitting at the same speed(low end) his fastball was at last time. Sadler mostly sat 91-92 topping out at 93 tonight.
Next up was Rinku Singh for the 7th. This was the first time I saw him and his one inning outing had a lot of good and bad. He faced just 5 batters, got a nice DP started by Eric Avila,who I must mention about because his improvements I wrote about in the first game were no one game fluke, his fielding took a huge leap forward in just two months. Back to Singh, he was wild with his fastball and was only sitting 84-86 but his off-speed pitches were getting soft contact and swing and misses. He has thrown harder in the past and needs to for him to be successful but if he has his breaking pitches working like he did tonight he could be effective.
Kevin Decker finished the game up with 3 strikeouts over the final two innings for the save. He was throwing a ton of off-speed pitches and looked good. I heard from a player that he had a change-up that they were jealous over and the pitch is a legit out pitch. His delivery is exactly the same as his fastball but 8-10 mph slower and it had batters out well in front.
The Power scored one run in four different innings tonight opening up their scoring in the 3rd inning when Daniel Grovatt lead off with a double. He went to 3B on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
In the 6th with a new pitcher on the mound Kawika Emsley-Pai greeted him with a triple to the gap, I had it as a double misplayed into a triple after the center fielder dropped the ball as it bounced off the wall giving Kawika time to make it to 3B. Regardless of the scoring, he would score one play later on a groundout to SS by Andy Vasquez.
The Power struck again the next inning with back to back hits by Andrew Maggi, a double, followed by a single by Daniel Grovatt. Maggi scored but Grovatt was thrown out on a terrific play by Franco who cut off the throw and without hesitation spun and threw to 1B where Grovatt was just rounding the bag. It is obviously a play that Lakewood practices as the 1B was covering the bag and Franco never even looked to see where Grovatt was, he just spun and threw.
With the score now 3-3 in the 8th the Power manufactured their last run on a walk to Justin Howard, a sacrifice bunt, a groundout that got Howard to 3B and an infield single by Kevin Mort who hustled down the line to beat the throw from SS and give West Virginia a 4-3 advantage they would hold on to. Rinku Singh picked up his 2nd win with the team and his 4th overall win on the year.
Andrew Maggi had four hits on the day and almost had a 5th in the top of the 9th inning but a low liner to LF was caught. Eric Avila had the hardest hit ball of the day a long fly to straight away CF that was caught right at the wall, looked like sure extra bases off the bat. Mel Rojas Jr got on base three times with two walks and a nice line drive to RF plus he stole two bases in the 9th inning. A nice overall game by the team, one bad three batter stretch by Taillon, but the bullpen pitched well, the team played nice defense and they got on base with 12 hits and 7 walks.
Game four of the series will take place tomorrow night with Porfirio Lopez scheduled to go although I saw him warming up very briefly during the game so he may not make the start.