Former Baltimore Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden is now off the free agent market, having signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets. The Tea Man was a good defensive replacement to give Matt Wieters a breather, but in the end, he simply could not hit well enough to justify being kept with the team.
Since we here in the Maryland area are suffering through the coldest weather in more than two decades, let me warm things up a bit with a warm memory … and at the end, I’ll share with you a very warm picture.
It was July 14, 2012 – the second game after the All Star break. The Orioles were really struggling. They had lost 10 of the past 14 games to fall to 45-41 on the season. After the great early start, Birds fans were sure that the wheels were coming off.
The Detroit Tigers were in town and had beaten the Orioles the night before, 7-2. Baltimore needed a win in the worst way.
The evening was going well for the Orioles, as Wei-Yin Chen had gone six innings and given up only one run on two hits. But with a 4-1 Orioles lead going into the bottom of the 9th, Jim Johnson suffered a blown save, aided by a Flaherty error at third base.
And then the Tigers got a run in the top of the 11th; but in 2012 fashion the Orioles equaled it in the bottom of the frame.
An then again the Tigers scored a single run in the top of the 13th, but yet again, the Orioles tied the game on a J.J. Hardy home run – his first hit in one-half of forever.
Finally, with two outs and a runner on base in the 13th, Teagarden delivered with a walk-off homer. Tea had come into the game earlier after Steve Pearce had been a pinch runner for Wieters.
The plate appearance was only the second of the night for Teagarden, and it was also only his second of the year. This was his first game back after the back problems that had befallen him in spring training.
The victory was critical for the Orioles, who went from that point forward to post a record of 48-28. It was a game they should have won, then should have lost twice, but finally ended up winning. That’s the way it was in 2012. And Taylor Teagarden was a definite part of it with a number of clutch hits and homers.
So, to remind us that it is not always so cold around these parts, here is a warm picture I took of the scoreboard a year earlier on July 22, 2011 …
And another note from the box score: This fellow named Quintin Berry was three for six on the evening as the Tigers’ left fielder! This was also the final game ever for Luke Scott in an Orioles uniform. Alfredo Simon was the starter and had a good game and quality start with two runs in 6.2 innings. But, trailing 2-1, Derrick Lee booted a grounder from the first batter in the top of the 9th, and then Captain Chaos Kevin Gregg loaded the bases before giving up a slam to Vernon Wells. Yes, a game like this with names like these reminds us that the Orioles have come a long way.