After enduring a 20-0 loss on Saturday, Chris Taylor had plenty of time to think about what went wrong. Even in a league based more on development and fun rather than wins and losses, the sting of that defeat wasn't easy to live with.
"We were pressing the last few games," said Taylor. "It was nice to get the 'W' today. It definitely takes a little pressure off."
Taylor put the rout into the rearview mirror with a pair of RBI doubles and Astros right-hander Matt Heidenreich turned in his third straight scoreless start as Peoria blanked Scottsdale, 4-0, on Monday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League.
"It feels really good," said Taylor, who helped Peoria improve to 6-11. "I think it helps us relax a little bit."
The Mariners' No. 5 prospect knocked home Delino DeShields Jr. with a line-drive double to left field in the first inning and plated the No. 7 Astros prospect again on a one-out double in the third. Houston slugger Japhet Amador singled home Taylor in the first and doubled and scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Jorge Bonifacio (Royals) in the ninth.
In the 20-run loss, Taylor led off and DeShields batted ninth. On Monday, manager Jim Pankovits switched it up and hit DeShields first and Taylor second. Either way, the pair created some offense early.
"He's pretty fast. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense when he's on the bases," Taylor said of DeShields. "He's done a good job at the plate of seeing a lot of pitches and getting on base. I know I'll see a lot of fastballs with him on first."
Taylor has notched multi-hit efforts in six of his last eight games with Peoria, helping raise his average to .394.
"I felt good, I was just trying to not do too much," he said of his doubles. "Luckily they fell in some holes. I went down the left-field line twice and Delino was able to score from first."
Taylor, the Mariners' fifth-round pick out of Virginia in 2012, earned California League All-Star honors this past June when he hit .335 with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 67 games for Class A Advanced High Desert. He earned a promotion to Double-A Jackson, and overall, batted .314 with eight long balls, 60 RBIs, 38 stolen bases and a .409 on-base percentage in 134 games.
Now in Peoria, he's focused on defense and situational hitting as he eyes his Triple-A debut in 2014.
"I really wanted to stress playing solid defense and hitting with two strikes," the 23-year-old said. "I know it's going to be a challenge to put the ball in play consistently out here with these good pitchers, so I want to work on my two-strike approach and make all the routine plays on defense."
Taylor got much more consistent pitching Monday from his staff, starting with Heidenreich, whoallowed one hit while striking out two over three frames for his first win. In three starts, the Houston righty has held opponents to a pair of hits with seven strikeouts and five walks over nine innings. In 31 outings this season, mostly in relief, the California native went 4-5 with a 7.81 ERA in 65 2/3 innings between the Gulf Coast League Astros and Double-A Corpus Christi.
Dennis O'Grady (Padres), Alex Sogard (Astros) and Kyle Simon (Phillies) followed their starter with two scoreless frames apiece. Simon earned his first save.
San Francisco's Adalberto Mejia (1-2) took the loss for Scottsdale after allowing three runs on three hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings. He struck out two.
For Taylor, the experience and talent level has been exactly what he was hoping for.
"It's really good competition, which is what I expected," he said. "Some of the best players from all different organizations are here. They're playing at a high level, so you have to bring your 'A' game every day. Sometimes that can be a little stressful, I guess -- I just try to take it one day at time and relax and not try to do too much."