Taylor Teagarden made his first major league hit count.
The rookie broke up Scott Baker’s perfect-game bid with a sixth-inning home run and caught Vicente Padilla’s gem Sunday as the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0.
“The only thing he didn’t do was clean the stadium after the game,” Texas closer C.J. Wilson said.
The Rangers denied the Twins their fourth series sweep over the past month, handing them just their eighth defeat in 31 games. Baker (6-3) took a hard-luck loss, his first in six starts.
Baker retired the first 17 Rangers who came to bat and by the time Teagarden stepped to the plate in the sixth, the crowd of 36,029 had begun to catch on. Baker received ovations before all three of his two-out, two-strike pitches to the rookie.
But with the count full, Teagarden, in just his second major league game, stroked a fastball that kept carrying and barely cleared the center-field wall and Carlos Gomez’s glove.
“Baker was throwing so well at that point, I figured he was going to come with his best fastball, and he did,” Teagarden said. “I just tried to put an easy swing on it and make contact.”
Baker said after the game that he shouldn’t have thrown a fastball.
“After thinking about it, I should’ve chose to treat the situation as a 0-0 game more so than a no-hitter or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “You can’t allow one swing like that to change the whole plane of the game.”
But catcher Joe Mauer defended the pitch.
“If Scott can do that the rest of the year, we’re going to be pretty tough,” Mauer said. “He threw the ball well. That’s a guy you want to go after, and he put a good swing on it. I wish we could’ve got him some runs.”
Baker took a perfect game into the ninth inning last August against Kansas City, but gave up a walk and a hit before finishing the shutout. He finished Sunday with eight strikeouts, one short of a career high. He completed a season-high eight innings, giving up two hits and a walk.
Padilla (11-5), activated from the disabled list before the game, gave up three hits in seven innings. He threw just 80 pitches and said he could’ve gone further but decided not to chance it.
Padilla had pitched well before landing on the DL with neck stiffness—he was 8-1 with a 3.23 ERA between April 27 and June 23—and appeared to be back in form. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was impressed with Padilla’s low pitch count and use of all his pitches, including three off-speed deliveries clocked on the stadium radar between 50 and 54 mph.
Padilla was the final member of the Rangers’ original five-man rotation to spend time on the disabled list, and they lead the majors in runs allowed. But for Washington, Padilla’s start was a good sign.
“What he did today is what he’s capable of,” Washington said. “It was encouraging for the team because we’ve been struggling to get some things going. He gave us all a shot in the arm.”
Wilson pitched the ninth for his 23rd save, and 15th straight. Mauer walked with two outs in the inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch that Teagarden had trouble finding, but Justin Morneau grounded out to end the game.
And while Teagarden might have overshadowed Padilla, it could be a while before he gets the chance to shine again.
The Rangers need to make some pitching staff moves—including activating Eric Hurley, who is expected to start Monday. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is expected to return from illness soon, and Teagarden is a candidate to be sent back down.
“I don’t know what the rotation is with the catchers, or what the situation is, but I’m just going to keep playing hard,” Teagarden said. “Whatever decision they want to make is fine.”
Twins INF Nick Punto was available for defense after experiencing improvement in his sprained knuckle and should be available to avoid the DL. He could be ready Monday. RF Michael Cuddyer, however, has made little progress with a similar injury and is still out indefinitely. He’ll have a CT scan to check the bone and see if there’s anything else wrong. … After a busy All-Star break, Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton was given the day off. Washington said it was decided on Thursday that Hamilton would sit for Sunday’s matinee. … Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has decided for now to keep Gomez in the leadoff spot, mostly to preserve his confidence. Gomez was in a 3-for-44 slump until hitting two doubles Saturday. “The second half, (I’ll) be better,” Gomez said. “Just more experienced.” … The Rangers’ four All-Stars—Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Milton Bradley—finished the series 5-for-40.