Taillon fans 10 but loses

Jameson Taillon won without his best stuff the last time out, but the law of averages caught up with him Friday as he lost despite having great stuff.

“That’s just baseball,” the Curve pitcher said. “That’s how it works.”

Taillon struck out a career-high 10 in six innings, looking dominant against most of Harrisburg’s hitters. A couple of those hitters got to the pitcher, however, just enough to hand him his first Double-A defeat in a 4-0 Senators victory before 3,020 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Taillon allowed two runs on five hits and three walks to go along with the 10 strikeouts. He topped his previous career best of nine strikeouts, accomplished in four innings on Aug. 28, 2011 against Lexington when he was pitching for low-A West Virginia.

Harrisburg’s Caleb Clay (2-0) outdueled Taillon, shutting out the Curve on four hits over six innings. Taillon had won his first four Double-A starts – one this year and three last season.

From a development standpoint, seeing Taillon as sharp as he was Friday is nothing but positive for the Pirates. But he did give up two runs and suffered the loss, which might not mean much in the grand scheme of things in the minor leagues, but it did mean something on this day to this Curve team.

“It matters,” manager Carlos Garcia said when asked if the outcome is all that important when such a prized prospect pitches so well. “It’s definitely better to win than lose.”

Taillon pitched five shutout innings in his season debut at Erie but admitted he didn’t have his best stuff. He was on right from the start Friday, something he felt warming up in the bullpen before the game.

“Everything felt good, pitches felt good, command felt pretty good,” Taillon said. “I had my fastball, curveball working for me, threw a couple good changeups.

“It was a game where pretty much in the bullpen before, I knew I felt good, and there’s not too many of those starts every year where you truly feel great, and today was one of those. So I went out there and just attacked them.”

Taillon cruised through the first inning and worked around a one-out double to Steven Souza in the second. The Senators got to him with two outs in the third as Brian Goodwin doubled to center and scored when Jose Losada roped a single to left.

Souza solved Taillon again in the fourth with a long home run onto the grassy hill in left for a 2-0 Senators lead.

So as good as he felt, Taillon was reminded that if he makes mistakes, hitters will capitalize.

“That’s baseball,” he said. “One day you feel great, you give up two, one day you don’t feel good, you don’t give up any [such as in Erie]. It’s kind of how it works.”

He said of the hard hits, “A couple of them were up, a couple of them were just fastballs that they were hunting, fastballs they were looking, bad pitches by me. Really what it came down to is I was throwing two-seamers on those pitches, and obviously a two-seam runs, and it kind of ran back over the middle of the plate and they made me pay.”

Six of his strikeouts were swinging, while four were looking, indicating a good mix of being able to throw pitches by some hitters and fooling others.

“Attacked the strike zone very well, used his changeup, breaking ball. Very good,” Garcia said.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” the manager added. “He threw a good six innings, mixed his pitches very well. A couple pitches he was just a little bit up in the zone, and they know he’s going to come with a fastball, so they guessed very well.”

Part of developing in Double-A is understanding the need to work on certain pitches in certain situations so that the pitcher best prepares himself to face advanced hitters at higher levels. Taillon has that down pat.

“I expect a lot out of myself, and just because I could get a Double-A guy out on a hanging curveball doesn’t mean I can get a guy out in the big leagues with it,” he said. “The goal is to pitch in the big leagues, so I’ve got to hold myself to a high standard.”

The Curve had several scoring opportunities but were shut out for the first time this season. Three Senators relievers followed Clay with a scoreless inning apiece, and Harrisburg added two insurance runs in the ninth off reliever Nate Baker.

Game recap

Key player: Senators RF Steven Souza went 2-for-3 with a homer and double.

Key play: Souza’s homer off RHP Jameson Taillon gave Harrisburg a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

Key stat: Taillon struck out a career-high 10.

How they scored

Top 3rd: Goodwin doubled, scored on Lozada single (0-1).

Top 4th: Souza solo homer (0-2).

Top 9th: Hood reached on Ngoepe error, scored on Nicol single (0-3); Hague singled, scored on Goodwin bases-loaded walk (0-4).