Jameson Taillon's major-league debut last week was decent enough, but this one was a statement, the kind of game that will have fans around the nation glued to his next start. Taillon no-hit the Mets through six innings and allowed just two hits through eight, leading the Bucs to a 4-0 win. Taillon's debut, acceptable though it was, only got him demoted back to Indianapolis. Tonight's outing was a demand that the Pirates not consider optioning him again.
Taillon's second start in the big leagues was beyond brilliant, as he used his plus fastball and swoon-inducing curveball to baffle the Mets' lineup in an outing that was both dominant and efficient. As the excitement surrounding his start escalated, he finally capitulated in the seventh, allowing a ground-ball single to Curtis Granderson that was, if anything, an indication of everything the young pitcher was doing right.
Granderson's single wasn't hit hard, and it was on the ground, and Taillon promptly erased Granderson by getting Yoenis Cespedes to ground into a double play. He then got Kelly Johnson to ground out, and both Johnson and Taillon walked back to their respective dugouts visibly annoyed -- Johnson because he couldn't figure Taillon out, and Taillon presumably because, at least in the record books, his start would go down as being merely terrific, rather than transcendent.
Taillon delivered five whiffs and issued just one walk over eight innings, but the key to his start was the number of weak ground balls he induced. He ended up with 15 ground ball outs versus just one in the air. The Mets' broadcast team compared him to Roy Halladay; one could easily imagine the Phillies' former ground-ball king watching Taillon and nodding in approval. Taillon left after just 91 pitches.
Taillon's start, of course, led to the usual grousing from some quarters about the Pirates exploiting the Super Two threshold. I vote we leave that aside and try to enjoy this excellent start on its own terms. Even Taillon himself felt he benefited from the two months in the minors he got this year. I'd much rather appreciate what Taillon actually did tonight than worry, yet again, about the timing of his promotion.
Jacob deGrom went toe-to-toe with Taillon for awhile, but the Pirates finally were able to strike in the sixth. Starling Marte hit a two-out single, and Jung Ho Kang followed with a ridiculously hard-hit line drive that cleared the fence in center to put the Bucs up 2-0. Kang went 2-for-3 and is now hitting a ridiculous .294/.362/.627.
They would add on in the top of the eighth. Gregory Polanco led off with a walk against Jim Henderson, and Marte followed with a two-run shot of his own to give the Bucs a 4-0 lead. Tony Watson finished out the ninth to complete the Pirates' win.