After toiling through a back injury and rehab stints in the Gulf Coast League and Double-A, Taylor Teagarden made his season debut a memorable one.
Teagarden, in just his second at-bat of the season, helped the Baltimore Orioles end a three-game losing skid and earned the game-changing moment of the week with a walk-off homer against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
The surprising Orioles, still in second place in the tough American League East as the second half began, needed 13 innings and three runs to earn the 8-6 win. In the bottom of the 13th, after the Tigers had taken a one-run lead in the top of the inning, J.J. Hardy hit a solo homer to tie the game. After Adam Jones walked, Teagarden came to the plate for the second time after replacing Matt Wieters behind the plate. With two out he sent a 1-2 pitch from Joaquin Benoit deep to right field for the walk-off winner.
For Teagarden, who spent the first four years of his career in the Texas Rangers organization, it was his first major-league home run since August 18, 2010.
"It was a long time since I've hit a ball hard," Hardy said. "It felt good.
"I've been thinking about this day for a while. It has been somewhat of a grind for me this year, so just being in this clubhouse and among these guys, it means the world right now."
Teagarden was so excited he caused a bit of controversy when he let a four-letter word slip during a postgame television interview after he received the customary shaving-cream pie in the face from teammates.
Teagarden got news of the camera picking it up from his mother.
"The first thing she said was, 'Do you realize you said that and it was on live television?' I was like, 'Was it really?'" Teagarden said. "At that point, that was the first anyone had told me about it. I thought maybe they had bleeped it out. I felt embarrassed. I'd like to apologize if I could."
After a long, difficult fight to get back to the majors, Teagarden has earned the right to be excited.
In an All-Star Game shortened week, Atlanta Braves young closer Craig Kimbrel earned a pair of impressive and efficient saves on Friday and Saturday.
Now in his third big-league season, Kimbrel already is a two-time All-Star and is on his way to leading the National League in saves for the second consecutive year.
In back-to-back wins against the New York Mets, Kimbrel closed out the game by striking out the side. Friday's save included a hit scattered around the three K's but it marked the sixth and seventh times this season he has earned the save with three strikeouts.
Kimbrel's 27 saves this season are the most in the major leagues.