Pirates Ruin Taillon’s Return to Pittsburgh, Top Yanks 5-2

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bill Mazeroski threw the first pitch. David Bednar froze one of the most feared batters in baseball with the latter.

In between is the Pittsburgh Pirates offered a fleeting glimpse of what they’re trying to build, one that came at the expense of an old friend and briefly cooled the best team in the majors.

Rookie outfielder Jack Suwinski hit his 14th home run, Daniel Vogelbach added his 11th and spoiled the Pirates Jameson Taillonreturns to PNC Park with a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday evening.

The Pirates played a short tribute video to Taillon – who spent more than a decade with the organization before being traded to New York in January 2021 – as he headed for the mound. Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” blared as Taillon warmed up, just as it was for home starts made by the popular righthander during his four seasons in the Pittsburgh rotation.

Taillon called the run-out of the visitors’ dugout a bit odd, even though he was nearly 18 months away from the trade that sent him to New York in exchange for a handful of prospects for a club in a top-to-bottom reset, he wasn’t exactly overcome with emotion. His main concern was finding a way to navigate Pittsburgh’s left-handed heavy lineup.

It didn’t go as well as he wanted. Vogelbach hit a laser across the right field wall at the start of the second and Suwinski threw a ball in the front row of seats in the midfield that scored two runs when Taillon (9-2) took its first loss since April 11.

Despite his stellar win-loss record, Taillon’s ERA over his last six starts is north of 5.00. Even with the Yankees cruising the AL East with the All-Star break approaching, Taillon is wary.

“It’s a results-oriented competition,” he said. “But at the same time I feel healthy and I feel like I’m making a lot of good pitches, but it seems I’m on just a few of pitches on each outing.”

Jose Quintana (2-4) controlled New York for five innings and Pittsburgh’s bullpen did the rest. Bednar worked the ninth for his 13th save — striking out Aaron Judge looking for a runner to end it — while the Pirates sent the Yankees to consecutive losses for just the fifth time this season.

Pittsburgh leaned on a rare visit from the Yankees, whose first appearance at PNC Park since 2017 brought in the first sale of the season at a stadium that is usually more than half-empty most nights. Fans got a glimpse of a lineup with promising rookies like Suwinski and shortstop Oneil Cruz, and a rough try from Quintana.

The veteran lefthander, who landed a one-year contract in the offseason, retired the Yankees only once in a row, but struckout seven times.

“He’s just competing,” Vogelbach said. “You just feel it in him, he’s never out of the count, never out of the inning. He’s always one pitch away. That radiates on you. That makes you want to play behind him and you want to score runs in front of him .”

A FULL HOUSE

Mazeroski, who hit the decisive homerun in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Yankees at Forbes Field, threw the ceremonial first pitch. The crowd roared as the 85-year-old waved, setting the tone for an evening that felt like something was at stake for two teams separated by more than 25 games in the standings.

HALF HOUSE

New York reached the middle of the season 58-23, the best record in the majors by a significant margin and well ahead of the club’s pace last year, as the Yankees plodded to a 41-40 run in their first 81 games.

New York rallied a year ago to make it to the playoffs. That probably won’t be necessary this time around, not as the Yankees go into the day and lead the AL East by a whopping 13 games.

Still, New York’s blazing pace has cooled off a bit lately with the All-Star break approaching. The Yankees are 2-3 halfway through their four-city road trip that ends in Boston this weekend.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa had three hits for New York. Gleyber Torres and Matt Carpenter added two each. Judge went 1 for 5, went into an inning-ending double-play with two runners on base in the seventh and struckout in the ninth, symbolizing a night when the Yankees left nine men on the field.

TRAINERS ROOM

Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo was scratched an hour before the first pitch with a tight low back. DJ LeMahieu initially filled in for Rizzo. … RHP Domingo Germán (right shoulder) will have at least one more rehab start before the team makes a decision on when he can be taken off the 60-day injured list. Manager Aaron Boone said Germany “looked good” and he is “encouraged” by Germany’s progress. … RHP Miguel Castro (paternity leave/restricted list) could rejoin the team on Wednesday.

NEXT ONE

New York’s Luis Severino (4-3, 3.35 ERA) will aim for his first win in a month when he faces Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.14) on Wednesday. Keller has allowed three runs or less in five of his last six starts after a brief stint in the bullpen.

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