A player with the penchant for some big hits this year is ready tonight to replace the Orioles All-Star catcher for a big game vs. Boston.
With Matt Wieters not with the team this evening after the birth of his first child early this morning, Taylor Teagarden will start behind the plate for the Orioles against the Red Sox.
"I'm excited about every time I get in there. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm excited to be in there," Teagarden said.
He has made 14 starts this season and the O's are 9-5 in those games.
Teagarden spent the first half of the year in rehab mode dealing with a back injury but finally joined the O's as Wieters backup coming out of the All-Star break.
"The first half was a very frustrating time for me," Teagarden said. "Not being in here in the clubhouse and not knowing when I'd be back with the team. But being here since then has been an awesome experience for me. I got activated right into a situation where we were winning games and every game has been big. Everyone has to be at their best right now."
Teagarden played in some big games the last few years with Texas as the Rangers were chasing post-season berths.
"Yeah, played in some big games with them," Teagarden said. "Being on a team that clinched the West a couple of years in a row. Seeing what it's like in these games late in September where so much is on the line. Seeing the intensity of the crowds too, it's really helped."
Teagarden has come up with eight hits for the Orioles this year in 54 at-bats, but it seems like each one has been big. In his first game this year, July 14 against Detroit, he hit a two-run, walk-off homer in the last of the 13th. His pinch-hit RBI single beat Seattle in the 18th inning 10 days ago.
Of his eight hits, four have come with runners in scoring position (he is 4-for-13) and he is 3-for-5 in extra innings with a double, homer and four RBIs.
What is the key to getting the big hit late in the game?
"There is no secret to it. The timing has been unique. The way it's kind of worked out some of my hits have been late in the game, but I don't read into it too much."
Tonight, Teagarden will catch Chris Tillman. The right-hander is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.64 over his last four starts.
"Chris has been throwing the ball really well," Teagarden said. "Need to keep him in the zone. His curveball has been a good pitch for him. Just needs to stay down in the zone and throw strikes. Needs to stay out of two and three-ball counts."