Taylor Jordan made his first appearance for the Harrisburg Senators on May 12th. He's made ten trips to the mound since moving up to Washington's Double-A Eastern League affiliate from the Class-A Advanced Potomac Nationals in the Carolina League where he began the 2013 campaign, including today's start for the major league Nationals in Citi Field in Flushing, Queens, New York, where he would have pitched for the first time on July 14th in the All-Star Futures Game had he not been called up to the majors to pitch there this afternoon.
Jordan, 24, and a Nats' '09 9th Round pick, hasn't allowed more than one earned run in any of those ten outings after leaving Low-A ball.
In his major league debut against the Mets this afternoon, the right-hander continued the streak of one-earned-run-or-less outings he started with the Senators, giving up five hits, two walks and three runs, one earned, in 4 1/3 innings in which he threw 84 pitches, 48 for strikes, before Nats' skipper Davey Johnson pulled the plug on his first MLB start. Jordan got nine ground ball outs from the 13 batters he retired, leaving him with 219 groundouts from the 284 batters (77%) he's retired so far this season.
Errors hurt the Nationals' starter in the 5-1 loss to the Mets, with Ryan Zimmerman letting Marlon Byrd on with misplays in consecutive at bats only to watch the outfielder score each time as the home team first tied it at 1-1 in the fourth and then went ahead in the fifth. In his final inning of work, Jordan gave up a single by Daniel Murphy in the first at bat of the fifth, but retired David Wright and got a grounder to third from Byrd on which Zimmerman committed his second error of the game. When Josh Satin singled to put runners on the corners with one out, the Nationals' manager went to his bullpen.
Davey Johnson liked the effort from his debuting starter who's expected to take a few turns in the rotation while Dan Haren is on the DL. "Taylor Jordan pitched a heck of a ballgame," Johnson told reporters in Citi Field in New York after Washington fell back to .500 at 40-40 overall with the loss to the Mets. "First time out, I thought he threw the ball good, made some quality pitches. Didn't get much help from the defense, but he battled them and showed up very well. I was pleased with what I saw."
The 70-year-old manager wasn't pleased with what he saw from the team overall, however, especially after last night's dramatic late-inning comeback win. Asked how he explained such a letdown after so big a win, Johnson said, "You don't explain it. I don't know. It was an uplifting game last night. Today was a downer. Tip your hat to [Dillon] Gee, he pitched a good ballgame, but so did our guy, but that's just baseball. It's a long season."
Gee, 27, has now allowed the Nationals to score just two earned runs in 18 2/3 IP in 2013, for a 0.96 ERA against the Mets' NL East rivals so far this season, and he improved to (3-0) in three starts against Washington this summer and (6-1) in nine starts against the Nationals in his career. "He made good pitches," Johnson said, "He's an aggressive pitcher. He comes right at you. Made good pitches and changes speeds, uses all his pitches, and we were just a little bit flat, but it's just another day."
It wasn't just another day for Taylor Jordan, of course.
As for his stuff? "He's got a good sinking fastball," Johnson said, "It's tough first time out, first time with a ballclub, but he pitched well."
"He got a lot of ground balls," Johnson responded when he asked what he'd liked, specifically, about the pitcher's debut. "And I liked [that] he threw some good changeups, sliders. I liked what I saw. It was a good outing."
The best part? He gets to do it again in five days.