HOUSTON — In Jameson Taillon’s first playoff appearance, he was the victim of bad luck on mostly soft contact.
On Wednesday in Game 1 of the ALCS, Taillon enjoyed some good luck on mostly hard contact.
Making his first start of the playoffs after spending the ALDS as a relief option, Taillon flirted with danger for much of the night but still gave the Yankees a chance to win before the bullpen faltered in a 4-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Taillon lasted 4 ¹/₃ innings, giving up only one run on four hits and three walks with no strikeouts.
“In the playoffs, it’s all about matching the other guy and not giving up runs,” said Taillon, who was squaring off against Justin Verlander. “So I didn’t necessarily think I had my best stuff, but I was able to keep us in the game, limit them to one run amidst a little bit of traffic and some uncharacteristic walks. But held them at one, felt like I did my job. Yeah, that’s a tough lineup.”
After being passed over for Game 5 of the ALDS when it was pushed back a day by rain — allowing Nestor Cortes to start on short rest — Taillon was tasked with getting the Yankees off on the right foot in the ALCS against the Astros’ dangerous lineup.
The Houston-area native gave up plenty of hard contact — including 12 batted balls of 90 mph or harder — but did not let the game get away from him. He stranded five runners and got some help behind him with key catches from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
“Just keep making pitches to safe areas,” Taillon said. “I wasn’t trying to give in to anybody. Probably nibbled a little bit more than I’m used to, but in the playoffs, that’s kind of the way of life. I wasn’t willing to miss over the middle of the plate and get burned, especially with runners on.”
With the game tied 1-1 after 4 ¹/₂ innings, manager Aaron Boone sent Taillon back to the mound for the bottom of the fifth to face the top of the Astros lineup a third time. The right-hander got Jose Altuve to ground out but then gave up a double to Jeremy Pena, spelling the end of his night before Clarke Schmidt eventually stranded Pena.
“I just felt like it was a little bit of a grind for Jamo there,” Boone said. “I thought he competed awesome, made some pitches when he really needed to. He did a good job of limiting damage.”
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