West Virginia's Jameson Taillon, in his own words, had a real "situation" on his hands Tuesday night.
A wild pitch and a walk with one run already in for Greensboro left Taillon with the bases loaded and his potential win on the line.
"One of the things I've been learning is to just realize the situations that make or break a game," the 19-year-old said. "And to make a real quality pitch in that situation."
The No. 2 overall pick of last year's Draft and the top-ranked Pirates prospect escaped trouble with an inning-ending double play, going on to threw five one-hit frames in the Class A Power's 10-9 win over the Grasshoppers.
Taillon's start was one of the best by the right-hander in his first professional season. He has yet to pitch into the sixth inning of a game this year, part of the reason he's been winless since June 3.
"It was good. I've been pretty solid lately. [It's nice] to see the results come through after the work I've put in and the side sessions I've put in," he said. "I had three pitches working tonight and had one of the better deliveries I've had this year, so it's all started to come together."
His only mistake was an RBI single in the fourth to Jacob Realmuto. He struck out five, the fifth time he's whiffed at least that many, and walked three.
Taillon's best frame of the night was the second, when he struck out Ryan Fisher and Dan Black in between Realmuto's liner to third. He retired eight straight batters between the first and fourth innings before inducing the double play to escape a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
The Woodlands, Texas native worked around Wilfredo Gimenez's leadoff walk in the fifth to retire Isaac Galloway, Noah Perio and Marcell Ozuna to end his evening.
"I struck [Ozuna] out on a wild-pitch curve. He got to first, I walked a guy, gave up a hit and those were the situations that have been happening to me in previous starts," Taillon said. "Just weird hits and situations, and tonight I just kinda said to myself, 'That's all they're getting.' I realized the situation and kind of grinded it out, got a nice play by my second baseman [Kevin Mort]."
Taillon made his Minor League debut in April when he faced No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper and Hagerstown. He beat Augusta on May 8 and picked up his second victory on June 3 against Lexington, but is 0-2 in his last 13 starts since then.
Part of the winless streak is due to Pittsburgh's strict limiting of the righty's innings this year.
"There's also been stretches where I wasn't as efficient as I could have been," he said. "But it's nice to go give them at least five innings and save the bullpen a little."
Taillon, who signed with the Bucs for $5.6 million in 2010, is 2-3 with a 4.36 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings this year. Tuesday marked the seventh time he has pitched five frames in a game.
"The first time around, I threw mostly fastballs, but the second time, I gave them a different look," he said. "I started off guys with change-ups, got some pretty good results off the curve and was really using the fastball to get ahead and set the pace."
West Virginia built its starter a comfortable lead by the fifth, primarily with a four-run fourth capped by Drew Maggi's three-run homer. Maggi finished with four hits and was a triple shy of the cycle.
The lead disappeared as Greensboro scored once in the fifth and three times in the sixth and seventh. Taillon said he was inside the clubhouse getting in some additional work and didn't watch the seesaw battle unfold.
"It's just crazy that the game of baseball can go from pitching down in a game to completely changing in one inning, and that's the great thing," he said. "It was a great team win. The hitters and defense kept us going all night."
Realmuto smacked two homers and drove in six runs. After the Power took a three-run lead in the ninth, Realmuto's RBI single with one out in the bottom of the frame brought it back to a one-run game.
Power closer Jason Townsend, who served up a homer to the first batter he faced, Marcell Ozuna, managed to pick up his 11th save after he struck out Black and popped up pinch-hitter Aaron Dudley with the tying run in scoring position.
Cole, Bell report to team
Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, worked out on Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla., with the Pirates' Gulf Coast League affiliate alongside Bucs' second-round pick Josh Bell. Cole, the UCLA ace, signed an $8 million signing bonus to join Pittsburgh last week, but is not expected to see game action this season in the Minors. Bell, who had committed to the University of Texas, received a record $5 million bonus from the team after being selected as the first pick in the second round in June.