He gave up two one-out singles, and the crowd at Safeco Field was lively. Then he got slugger Nelson Cruz to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and everything changed.
Taillon found the curveball. The Mariners lost his sinker. He retired the next nine hitters in a row, had one hiccup in the fifth when he gave up a run on a Kyle Seager double and an Adam Lind RBI single, and finished strong in the sixth for the win.
"It felt good," Taillon said. "Coming off a start where it wasn't very good, it was a focal point of my side and my throwing program in between starts, to work on it."
After striking out Leonys Martin to start off the sixth, he gave up successive singles to Seth Smith and Robinson Cano and fell behind to Cruz in a 3-1 count.
But Taillon unleashed a fastball that Cruz swung at and missed and another that Cruz foul-tipped into catcher Erik Kratz's glove for the strikeout, his career-high sixth of the game. Then he got Seager to ground out, and his successful night was done.
"I want to really put the foot on the gas there and set the tone still," Taillon said of the final Cruz at-bat. "I knew I was getting close to being done, so I just let him eat and was aggressive with him. … That 3-1 pitch was probably one of the better pitches I've ever thrown."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle thought another particular pitch wasn't bad, either.
"The curveball's got finish," Hurdle said. "It's got snap. It's got bottom to it. He can throw it for a strike, he can throw it in the dirt for a chase. When you see good hitters take funny swings, you know it's coming out of his hand looking like a strike and then it's gone."
Taillon said he'll take confidence from this start and try to forget about the last one.
"Sometimes it takes a little slap in the face," Taillon said, "to really put my focus back on the right things and get me back in the right direction."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.