Chris Taylor has come to enjoy hitting behind Delino DeShields in the Javelinas' lineup. Preoccupied with DeShields' exceptional speed, pitchers tend to give him a steady diet of fastballs.
That combination produced two runs in Peoria's 4-0 victory against Scottsdale on Monday at Scottsdale Stadium. The victory snapped the Javelinas' four-game losing streak.
DeShields began the game with an eight-pitch walk against left-hander Adalberto Mejia, the Giants' No. 19 prospect. Taylor followed with a first-pitch double down the line in left field, allowing DeShields to race home from first. Taylor would score later that inning, quickly giving Peoria a 2-0 lead.
They would repeat the play in the third inning. DeShields drew another walk, this time with one out, against Mejia and Taylor again followed it with a double to left field, allowing DeShields to score.
Taylor, the Mariners' No. 5 prospect, said he felt good facing Mejia.
"I was just trying to not do too much," Taylor said. "Luckily, they fell in some holes."
As usual, DeShields' speed played a large role in both runs. He stole 101 bases in 2012 and swiped another 51 this year. The Astros' No. 7 prospect has five stolen bases in 13 games in the Arizona Fall League.
"He's pretty fast," Taylor said. "He puts a lot of pressure on the defense when he's on the bases. He's done a good job at the plate of seeing a lot of pitches and getting on base. I know I'll see a lot of fastballs with him on first."
But Monday, it was Taylor who stole a base, his third of the fall. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a run. DeShields went 0-for-1 with three walks.
With DeShields and Taylor giving the Javelinas an early lead, their pitching staff made sure it didn't go to waste. Starter Matt Heidenreich and three relievers combined for a three-hit shutout. Heidenreich allowed one hit in three innings and hasn't given up a run in nine innings this fall.
The Scorpions' best chances came early in the game. Cory Vaughn hit a one-out triple in the second inning, but Heidenreich recovered to end the inning with a strikeout and a groundout.
Scottsdale threatened again in the fourth. Tommy La Stella hit a one-out double in the fourth and Vaughn drew a two-out walk, but Robby Hefflinger struck out to end the inning. The Scorpions didn't have a runner in scoring position the rest of the game.
The Scorpions' last hit came in the sixth inning. Mason Williams, ranked No. 36 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list, led off the inning with a bunt single, but he was quickly erased in a double play.
Taylor said the victory was important for Peoria's mindset.
"I think it helps us relax a little bit," Taylor said. "We were pressing the last few games. It was nice to get the "W" today. It definitely takes a little pressure off."
Just past the halfway point in the AFL season, Taylor said the league has been about what he expected. With such a high level of competition, he is trying to play the type of game he always has.
"Some of the best players from all different organizations are here," Taylor said. "They're playing at a high level so you have to bring your "A" game every day. Sometimes that can be a little stressful, I guess. I just try to take it one day at time and relax and not try to do too much."