Jameson Taillon took the mound in the biggest stage of his career against Team USA this afternoon. In the end, it didn’t appear too big for the 6’6″ right hander.
Taillon pitched well despite having to be a bit nervous. The fastball was in the 95 mile per hour range early, but appeared a bit straight. Certainly, Taillon took advantage of some questionable moves by TeamUSA skipper Joe Torre.
Braun stole second before Mauer hit a bullet to second base from the dark shadows of the batter box while Taillon used the sunshine to his advantage. Whew, the first inning was over and Taillon looked good in throwing 13 pitches.
In the second it got a bit strange as Lady Luck arrived to spoil the fun for the 21-year old Taillon. David Wright murdered a leadoff-double to deep left center field. Taylor Green ran all the way to the first-base side of the mound to try and catch a popout. He failed. With runners on first and second Torre elected to have Adam Jones bunt moving both runners up before Eric Hosmer grounded sharply to third setting up Wright in a rundown. Taillon escaped the inning by recording the last out when Shane Victorino–who was in the lineup for some unGodly reason?
Taillon’s dual-citizenship brethern staked him to a 2-0 lead and Taillon quickly got to work in the third inning. Jimmy Rollins struckout. Brandon Phillips grounded out on the first pitch he saw.
And to answer that question above, yes, a Pirates pitcher can get Ryan Braun out. Taillon froze Braun on a 3-2 curveball battling back from a 3-0 count with some help from the homeplate up on a 3-1 pitch.
Taillon wasn’t as sharp in the fourth. Joe Mauer singled sharply and then Wright walked on six pitches. The US was able to break the streak of zeroes when Ben Zobrist bunted, but the throw was off from Taylor Green. Who invited Green anyway? Oh, that’s right Brett Lawrie hurt his pinkie, or whatever.
With runners now on the corner Adam Jones tied the game with a sac fly. Taillon got out of the inning when Eric Hosmer lined out to left and Victorino whiffed to end the mess.
The stage didn’t appear to engulf the Pirates pitcher with so much of the Bucs future on his right shoulder. It’s also not hard to imagine seeing Taillon back on the same stage in the next World Baseball Classic and he’ll probably be even better.