Teagarden caps memorable week
First homer breaks up perfect-game bid, gives Padilla win
MINNEAPOLIS -- Talk about your all-time whirlwind weeks. In the last seven days, Taylor Teagarden has played in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, been selected to play for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing, and been called up to make his Major League debut on Friday.On Sunday, he displayed his newest trick: one-man wrecking ball. The rookie catcher coolly caught a shutout and broke up a perfect game in the sixth with a solo home run off Twins starter Scott Baker. It was the game's only run as Texas pulled out a 1-0 victory while gnawing its fingernails to the quick. "Teagarden was the hero today," closer C.J. Wilson said. "He caught the shutout and hit the homer to win the game. And he threw a guy out [Brian Buscher in the fifth]. The only thing he didn't do, I guess, was clean the stadium after we leave." Teagarden's play leaves Rangers management in an interesting dilemma. The catcher must be sent down by Tuesday to participate in the Olympics. The club will need to shave two players from the roster on Monday, when it is expected to activate pitchers Eric Hurley and Scott Feldman. Texas currently has three catchers on the roster -- Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Max Ramirez -- and will almost assuredly get rid of one Monday. "That kid's done nothing since he's been up here but impress people," manager Ron Washington said. "So we'll see what the decision is when we make it; we just haven't made it yet." Teagarden is in a win-win situation. He said he would be happy to play in the Olympics but is also living his dream as a Major League player. "I can't tell Ron Washington that I want to go to Beijing, because that's not even how I feel," Teagarden said. "It's such an honor to be asked to do that. But if I'm called upon to play in the big leagues, you better believe I want to be here in the big leagues." On Sunday, Teagarden had the best seat in the house to one of the best pitchers' duels in the Majors this season. Rangers starter Vicente Padilla, activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, pitched a gem. The veteran threw seven shutout innings while allowing three hits and two walks. Padilla has had a vice-like grip on Minnesota's offense this season. In three starts against the Twins, the 30-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA. Padilla kept the Twins off-balance Sunday by jumping all over the radar, throwing anywhere from 52-94 mph in the contest. Padilla did not allow a Twins runner to advance beyond first base. He ceded to Eddie Guardado, the wildly popular former Twins closer, after seven innings. Guardado pitched a scoreless eighth before giving way to Wilson. The Rangers closer recorded two outs but then walked Joe Mauer on four pitches. The Metrodome crowd was on its feet as Justin Morneau walked to the plate. Wilson threw the second pitch of the at-bat into the dirt. It ricocheted off Teagarden's mask and flew into the air. Teagarden lost the ball and by the time he had retrieved it, Mauer had advanced all the way to third base. Morneau subsequently grounded weakly to second base and was narrowly thrown out, ending the game. The Rangers picked the right time to throw their fifth shutout of the season. Baker was lights-out for 5 2/3 innings, blowing through Texas' struggling offense, which had mustered only two runs in the previous two games, without allowing a baserunner. Up came Teagarden. The rookie worked the count full and then lofted a 92-mph fastball just out of the reach of Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez and over the left-center-field fence, ensuring the Rangers would avoid being swept in the three-game set. "Baker was throwing so well at that point, I got in a situation where it was two outs, 3-2 count, and I figured he was going to come with his best fastball -- and he did. I just tried to put a nice easy swing on it and make contact," Teagarden said. Wilson and his mates in the victor's bullpen were convinced the game was over as soon as the sphere disappeared. "We knew that was going to be it," Wilson said. "I know it's kind of deflating when you lose a no-hitter or perfect game, especially with a homer." Baker dazzled the Metrodome crowd of 36,029 outside of his lone mistake. The 26-year-old went eight innings while allowing only two hits and one earned run while being tagged with the tough-luck loss. "For a while there I know everybody in the ballpark thought that he was going to no-hit us, and it was easy to think that for the past couple days the way we swung the bat," Washington said. "But we kept fighting. Teagarden hits the home run and we make it stand up." Despite being the day's hero, Teagarden doesn't know which state he will end Monday in. And he doesn't know if he will spend August helping the Rangers in a pennant race or with the U.S. team trying to win a gold medal in China. "I hope, if he does go, he comes back right afterwards with a gold medal on," Wilson said. "He's a great catcher and a cool guy. I've had a chance to get to know him, and I'm really happy to have him up here."
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.