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Taillon tosses complete game gem in Bucs 5-0 win over Reds

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Jameson Taillon threw his first career complete game, chucking nine innings of one-hit shutout baseball in the Pirates 5-0 win over Cincinnati Sunday afternoon, taking three of four from the Reds at PNC Park.

Jordy Mercer knows a thing or two about facing the heater.

“Location and good angle, that’s all that matters when you throw it,” said the shortstop of fastball efficiency.

Mercer stood just feet behind one of the more masterful fastball performances thrown on the North Shore, as Taillon (2-0, 1.26) hurled 80 of them, never losing velocity throughout nine innings of supreme work in his surgical dissection of Cincinnati (2-6) on a frigid Sunday afternoon.

“It may very well have been his best fastball performance we’ve seen from him,” said Clint Hurdle.

“Seems like everybody throws like 60% or less of fastballs nowadays.  If you can move your fastball around, that is multiple pitches in one,” explained the fastball-advocate Taillon, who used 80 heaters in 110 pitches in Sunday’s start.

“Pitch efficiency and my two-seam was good all day,” explained Taillon.  “We tried to do some different sequences and at the end, we were just saying, here it is, here’s the two-seam.”

Taillon struck out seven, walking two batters and one hit batsman, with his lone hit coming off the bat of opposing pitcher Tyler Mahle in the third inning.

“As pitchers, we really can only hit fastballs, so that’s what I hit off him and that’s what he hit off me,” said Taillon.  “I took my chance with a curveball, he didn’t swing at it.  I thought it was time to move away from it.”

The pitcher helped his own cause in the second inning, driving in Mercer on a first-pitch fastball high in the zone, belting it to right field for a single.

Pittsburgh (7-2), who is tied for the third-best record in MLB, rallied around their white-hot pitcher’s performance, using the fifth inning to distance themselves from the Reds, corralling four runs, highlighted by a Gregory Polanco two-run homer, which was followed by a Corey Dickerson solo jack.

“Everybody’s just having fun,” said Dickerson, who is one of six players sporting a .300 (.301) or better average to start the season.  “It’s kind of even-keel around here.  We’re a really close group here, really close.”

Josh Harrison, Polanco and Colin Moran each added two hits to an 11-hit performance from the third-best run scoring offense in baseball.

Jamo’s Jammin’

After tying a career-high of nine strikeouts making his season debut Monday against the Minnesota Twins, Taillon pieced together a stellar follow-up campaign Sunday, sitting down seven.

“Mechanically, I felt good.  I was getting it to both sides of the plate, so that’s usually a sign of a good day,” said Taillon, who tossed the first individual one-hitter for a Pirates pitcher since AJ Burnett did it against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 31, 2012.

Taillon used a combined 22 pitches to escape the 4th, 5th and 6th innings.

“Middle of the game, I knew I was kind of rolling, just because the pitch-efficiency was so good and I was getting them out pretty quickly—like 4th, 5th and 6th (innings).  After that, I kind of blacked out and kept throwing pitches.”

Hurdle noted the importance of Taillon’s command when he said, “I think he forced contact better, because he had 12 three-pitch outs, which is huge.”

Taillon talked about his consistent velocity throughout his historic outing.

“I definitely wasn’t overthrowing it today,” he said, “I wasn’t dropping, driving, farting and grunting and all of that out there.  I felt good, I felt strong and I train hard so I can pitch in the ninth.”

Pitch

Count

SwStr

Called Strikes

BIP

Avg

Min

Max

Avg

Min

Max

FOUR SEAM

43

4

12

5

94.3

92.4

95.7

82.1

40.6

101.9

CURVEBALL

23

2

8

2

80.3

78.5

82.5

93.7

93.1

94.2

TWO SEAM

37

1

5

10

94

92.5

95.6

78.8

59.8

100.6

CHANGEUP

7

0

0

3

87.3

86.4

88.5

86.9

73.1

97

ALL

110

7

25

20

90.8

78.5

95.7

81.8

40.6

101.9

 

Numb3ers

7 of Jordy Mercer’s 9 hits this season have come off fastballs.  The patient game has paid off, as Mercer faced an average of at least four pitches in each of those at bats.

93 total batters have seen a defensive shift against the the Pirates this year, which is good for seventh-most in baseball.  With that, they have received the seventh-worst WOBA (waited on base average).

7-0 are the Pirates when leading after six innings this year.

After the moneyline

            Opened                Closed

O/U    7.5 (-110)             7.5 (-110)             
PIT      -150                      -150
CIN     +130                     +140

The Pirates closed as favorites in seven of nine games this season, while the total has gone over in six of nine.

Up next

The Pirates will travel to Chicago for a three-game weekday series with the Cubs.  Game one begins tomorrow when Ivan Nova (0-1, 6.10) faces off against Tyler Chatwood (0-1, 1.50).  First pitch from Wrigley Field is set for 2:20.

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