Scary moment precedes stellar start for Taillon

Rookie hurler remains in game after being struck in the head by line drive

Scary moment precedes stellar start for Taillon

PITTSBURGH -- Jameson Taillon was lying on his back on the mound Tuesday night, stitch marks from a line drive still visible on the back of his black Pirates cap, when the thought crossed his mind.

"Family is watching it. Girlfriend. People back home," Taillon said. "First thing that comes to mind is try to get up and show them that I'm all right."

Fortunately, he was. The rookie right-hander was struck in the back of the head by Hernan Perez's second-inning line drive, but he quickly returned to the mound and pitched six strong innings in the Pirates' 3-2 walk-off win over the Brewers.

Pitching with one out and nobody on base, Taillon threw a 94-mph fastball to Perez. The ball came off his bat at 105 mph, according to Statcast™, and caromed off the back of Taillon's head into left field.

"I was super scared," Perez said. "I think everybody was."

Taillon said he remembers everything about the play. He saw the ball coming, turned and fell at the base of the mound. He remained conscious as athletic trainers Todd Tomczyk and Ben Potenziano rushed onto the field and the Pirates gathered behind him.

The trainers followed the appropriate concussion protocol, manager Clint Hurdle said. Taillon said they asked him if he knew where he was and if he had any pain. They ran tests of his memory, balance, coordination and eyesight. He passed them all.

"I answered all the questions they asked me," Taillon said. "I wanted to get up quicker than I was able to."

Taillon goes six strong

Remarkably, the 24-year-old Taillon sat up within minutes after the ball bounced off his head. A few seconds after that, he was on his feet and asking for his glove.

"To be honest, I was waiting for it to hurt when I was down, and I really felt good," he said. "The biggest thing was fighting some adrenaline afterward. My pitches were up."

Taillon tossed a few warmup pitches and remained in the game. Hurdle said he left that decision in the hands of the club's medical staff.

"I trust our people," Hurdle said. "He's got a mom and dad watching the game. I've got a son. This is one area that I'm not real comfortable with, and I've got to trust our people. They do know what they're doing and how to follow a protocol and to test the player and the things to do."

Trainers checked on Taillon throughout the night, but he remained in the game. He got better as the night went on, holding Milwaukee to one run and breezing through six innings on 65 pitches.

"He stayed in there and almost pitched better after getting hit in the head, which is pretty incredible," Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett said.

Naturally, the next ball in play after Perez's liner was a shot back up the middle by Ramon Flores -- "That's baseball right there," Taillon said -- but he got out of the inning. He was unscathed, apparently, in more ways than one.

"I haven't wrapped my head all around it," Hurdle said. "Obviously he's a tough kid."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.