The Pirates played into the early hours of Wednesday morning only to lose a heartbreaker.
After Jordy Mercer’s two-run single in the top of the ninth inning put the Pirates ahead 5-4, the Braves scored twice in the bottom half off Tony Watson in the bottom half to pull out a 6-5 victory at SunTrust Park at Atlanta.
Thanks to a rain delay of more than three hours in the top of the seventh inning, the game did not finish until nearly 2 a.m.
Yet the long day and night wasn’t a total loss. The Pirates got a dose of good news about 11 hours before Matt Adams, the pride of Slippery Rock University, singled home the winning run.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon threw a side session before the game. It was the first time he had thrown off a mound since May 3, when he started against the Reds at Cincinnati and five days before he underwent testicular cancer surgery.
That Taillon has progressed this much barely more than two weeks after having cancerous tissue removed is nothing short of amazing. Yet anyone who knows the 25-year-old isn’t surprised.
“He made a decision a long time ago to own whatever happens to him, to not pick excuses and not pick at things, to own it and work with it and do the best he can with it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “This is another opportunity for him to do just that and he’ll come back better and not bitter. He’s special.”
Taillon has overcome his share of adversity in recent years.
He missed the 2014 season after tearing an elbow ligament during spring training and undergoing Tommy John reconstructive surgery. Taillon was also forced to sit out 2015 when he needed surgery to repair a sport hernia sustained while rehabbing from his elbow operation.
The difference, of course, is cancer can be fatal. Nobody has died from elbow surgery.
Yet that hasn’t deterred Taillon.
“One of my big baseball philosophies is if I put runners on base, I can’t worry about how they got there,” Taillon said. “I can’t worry about how I got here, just worry about the plan going forward.”
That plan is moving forward at a quicker pace than anyone could have dreamed.