Taylor Teagarden was the last hero of the day for the Orioles in his first game for the club. But it also had to be a nice sight for O’s fans to see J.J. Hardy tie the game with a homer in the bottom of the 13th, setting the stage for Teagarden’s game-winner.
Hardy had just one homer in his last 28 games and was in an 0-for-28 drought. He had just nine hits over his last 94 at-bats when he came to the plate in the 13th. His solo shot off Joaquin Benoit tied the game, 6-6.
“It’s a rough stretch for sure,” Hardy said of his extended slump. “I’m just out there grinding, maybe trying too hard at times, trying to do everything I can to help the team - putting a lot of pressure on myself. I think a big part of it is mental, more than anything. Probably just trying too hard.
“It was a long time since I’ve hit a ball hard and it felt good to tie the game there. Neither team really wanted to give up. They’ve got a good lineup and our pitchers did a good job of just giving up one run in those extra innings. That was a big win for us. It was exhausting but it was a lot of fun to jump on Teagarden there after he crossed home plate.”
Hardy said it was tough to go through this slump, but also difficult to do it at a time when the team was losing 14 of its last 20 games.
“It definitely makes it easier for me. If we’re winning ballgames and I’m not hitting it’s a lot easier on my mind. Losing the games makes it tougher for sure,” he said.
Hardy said his right shoulder, which has bothered him at times this year, was not a factor during his batting slump.
“(It feels) a lot better. I think those four days really helped. It’s feeling good.”
Meanwhile, Teagarden delivered the walk-off, two-run homer to right in his first Orioles game and in his second O’s at-bat. He entered this game as a defensive replacement in the 11th inning. He was out all year with a herniated disc in his back that required three epidural injections. This was his first major league game since last August 20.
“I was pretty pumped in my first at-bat, I had a chance to end the game,” Teagarden said. “I was really amped. I hadn’t had a big league at bat since August or September of last year. Just excited to be playing in this stadium in front of these fans. I’ve been thinking about this day for a while. To be in this clubhouse among these guys, just means the world right now.
“I got a fastball up. These guys were trying to elevate on me, I think trying to get me to chase up. That one, I kind of shortened my swing and it caught a little of the plate.”
This was Teagarden’s first career walk-off homer.
“I was happy finding out two weeks ago that I’d get a chance to come back to the team,” Teagarden said. “I had no timetable all the way back to March dealing with my back.
“I never thought I would see this day. It felt like it was miles away when I was told the situation. I am just so glad to be somewhat pain-free and to play in a big league game.”
It led to a three-man shaving cream pie that Teagarden may need days to get completely washed out of his hair.
“I think Andino, Jones and Reynolds got me good. Never saw it coming,” he said.