With Graham Taylor and Chase Anderson both pitching lights-out baseball Monday, it looked like the Suns and BayBears might end up playing late into the night. But after Jacksonville's offense emerged, it was Taylor who proved victorious.
The Marlins' left-handed prospect surrendered just two hits over seven shutout innings while the Suns offense exploded for seven runs in the eighth on Monday to give Double-A Jacksonville a 7-0 win over Mobile.
Taylor (1-1) lowered his ERA from 6.00 to 4.09 with the effort. The 27-year-old struck out three and walked three.
"I was able to command my fastball early in the count, get ahead and was able to mix in changeups and sliders here and there," said Taylor, who has fanned 20 in 22 innings. "They were swinging at pitches in the zone, and fortunately enough for me, they were hitting ground balls and popups."
Taylor dueled for the entirety of his start with Anderson, who struck out 10 and yielded four hits over seven scoreless frames. The 24-year-old D-backs right-hander did not allow more than one baserunner in any inning as he came one strikeout short of a career high -- he fanned 11 for Class A Advanced Visalia against Stockton on June 4, 2011.
"It was fun," Taylor said. "It was a nice competition. He started off putting up a zero and then it was my goal to match what he did. He didn't give up any runs, but to be able match him and give our team a chance, that's all I was trying to do. It was a nice, competitive game."
Taylor twice ran into trouble, but was able to work out of it both times. In the fourth, he surrendered a leadoff single to Daniel Kaczrowski and a one-out walk to Matt Davidson, putting two men on for the first time in the game. He then induced a flyout from Brent Clevlen and struck out Marc Krauss to end the inning.
In the sixth, Mobile's Wladimir Sutil worked a one-out walk and Davidson followed with a single, but Taylor was again able to get Clevlen and Krauss -- this time on a popup and a flyout.
"My starts earlier this year weren't bad, but they weren't good as well," Taylor said. "There were some spots where everything definitely came together and was good, but I just had one bad inning here or there of not locating pitches. ... Tonight, I was a little bit sharper. When I did get in a jam, I was able to make pitches and get myself out of it."
The pitching duel ended in the eighth, when Kevin Munson came on in relief for Mobile. The Suns collected four hits, four walks and a hit batsman in the frame, plating all seven of their runs in the process. Kyle Jensen led the way with a bases-loaded triple, while Kyle Skipworth, Curt Smith and Donnie Webb also tallied RBIs.
"That was great," Taylor said. "It was definitely a relief. When we have an inning like that where we open it up and put it to the other team, it's always nice to see."
A 10th-round selection in 2006, Taylor put together a 4.09 ERA in 99 innings for Jacksonville last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010. His goal for this year is to fully reach the form that he had before surgery -- he owned a career 3.22 ERA from 2006-'09.
"Last year was a bit of a roller coaster going up and down," he said. "Just to be consistent and get back to where I was before surgery, that's the goal. Just keep pitching well and keep winning."