In every start, there are two or three situations that can change the outcome of the game. Jameson Taillon's success in those situations on Monday night were the difference in his performance and could be the difference in his long-term outlook.
The Pirates' No. 1 prospect allowed two hits and struck out four over seven shutout innings, but did not figure into the decision as Class A Advanced Bradenton fell to Lakeland, 1-0, in 10 innings.
Taillon held the Flying Tigers hitless through the first four innings before Wade Gaynor singled to lead off the fifth. The 20-year-old right-hander worked his way out of trouble in that frame after walking Daniel Fields and uncorking a wild pitch.
Taillon recovered to strike out Adolfo Reina and James Robbins back-to-back before getting Hernan Perez to fly out to center field.
"Honestly I wasn't thinking much, I stuck to my plan," Taillon said. "I had second and third, and I knew I had an open base to work with the bottom of the lineup. I wouldn't say I worked around guys, but I threw my pitches. It worked when I got ahead and I varied a couple of curveballs."
Taillon walked three and faced four over the minimum for the Marauders, but left with the game scoreless.
"Early on, I kind of just eased my way into the game," the Florida native said. "It was an aggressive offensive team and I was pitching in and using their aggressiveness to my advantage. I went at them early with kind of a fastball-heavy dosage the first time through the lineup. I was at 31 pitches through four innings and that allowed me to go deeper into the game."
MLB.com's No. 5 prospect has endured a tough season for the Marauders, going 5-7 with a 4.09 ERA. In his previous start July 25, Taillon was touched up for four runs on eight hits over six innings against St. Lucie. He pointed to his success Monday in big spots as being the difference.
"Last start, I felt really good out there," Taillon said. "I would say there were three pitches that made the difference. Tonight, I had a couple of situations and I made big pitches when I needed to."
"Absolutely," he added when asked whether the fifth was one of those situations. "Just keep sticking to my plan, I had done well to that point. That's a situation that can make or break an outing."
Taillon thinks there are a couple of things that he can improve upon in order to take the next step.
"I'd say consistency from start to start," Taillon said. "One of the smaller aspects of the game that people don't pay attention to is holding runners on. I'm not the best at it, I'm a big guy and I'm not the quickest to the plate. There are different ways to go about it, from holding the ball longer to being quicker to the plate, those are the things I'm going to work on."
Kenn Kasparek (0-3) took the loss after allowing a run on five hits over 2 1/3 innings of relief for Bradenton.
Marcus Lemon delivered the win for Lakeland with a walk-off single in the 10th. Matt Crouse earned his fifth win after giving up a hit and fanning four over two innings of relief.