Teagarden helps Rangers to victory

Teagarden helps Rangers to win

SEATTLE -- Rangers pitchers have done some impressive work with Taylor Teagarden behind the plate.

He's caught a pair of 1-0 shutouts, and on Tuesday night he helped guide Vicente Padilla -- just off the disabled list -- to victory and rookie Warner Madrigal to his first Major League save. There are still some doubts about Teagarden's offense, and he's not going to lay them completely to rest as a September callup.

This is a catcher who was compared more to Brad Ausmus than Mike Piazza when he was the Rangers' third-round pick out the University of Texas in 2005. But getting off to a good start at the plate certainly can't hurt.

Teagarden continued to do that by going 2-for-5 with a single, double and three RBIs in the Rangers' 7-3 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field. Teagarden is now 7-for-20 with three home runs and nine RBIs in six games as a Major Leaguer.

"I got pretty comfortable the first few games up here," Teagarden said. "I'm just trying to put some good swings together and have some good at-bats. Fortunately, a few hits have fallen in lately."

The Rangers went without Milton Bradley, who strained his lower back in his first at-bat of the game and had to be replaced by Brandon Boggs. There was still plenty of offense to go around and not just from Teagarden.

Marlon Byrd added three hits and three RBIs, as the Rangers beat Mariners ace Felix Hernandez for the fourth time in six starts this season. This was his worst of the six, as he allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings, raising his ERA against the Rangers this season from 2.87 to 4.04.

"His demeanor wasn't the same as it has been," Byrd said. "Maybe he has a sore arm or he's tired or it was just one of those days. He's still a great pitcher, and he has great stuff. He'll put it together."

Hernandez was erratic from the beginning. He hit Joaquin Arias with a pitch to start the first inning and later hit Michael Young and Byrd. The Rangers didn't take offense.

"Felix was just off," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't think it was intentional hitting those guys. Usually when Felix does that you think it's on purpose. But none of my guys took offense."

That included Byrd, who was hit by a pitch to start the fifth inning and went to second on Hank Blalock's single. Hernandez then threw a wild pitch to Nelson Cruz, allowing Byrd to go to third. Byrd also noticed Hernandez was slow in covering home and broke for the plate. Byrd was thrown out easily but went in with a hard slide and dumped Hernandez on his rear.

"Actually I let up," Byrd said. "I could have gone harder, but I play the game right. He's a pitcher not used to covering home plate, and he's defenseless. There's no reason to slide hard. I made sure I had my spikes out of the way."

Hernandez, trailing 4-1, went back to the mound, walked Cruz and was pulled from the game. But Mariners manager Jim Riggleman didn't take offense with what Byrd did.

"I was concerned that sometimes a guy who gets hit by a pitch will take an opportunity to really smoke the pitcher covering the plate," Riggleman said. "To Byrd's credit, he didn't take a cheap shot there. He could have hurt us there. Feliz had a chance to get blindsided and Byrd made a good, clean, safe play and nobody got hurt."

Randy Messenger took over and struck out Chris Davis. But Teagarden followed with a two-run double to deep left-center to put the Rangers up, 6-1.

"He knows what he is, and there are times he's going to go up there and get big hits for you," Washington said. "I like what I've seen."

Washington mainly likes Teagarden's defense. The skipper also likes the way the catcher calls games, likes the way he catches and throws and likes the way the Rangers are 3-2 in the five games that he has started.

"The catcher's job is to have a positive impact on the pitcher, and Taylor Teagarden is doing a good job of that," Washington said. "He's been in sync with the guys on the mound. What he hits is not important to me. It's how he gets his pitchers through innings is important."

Teagarden got Padilla through his first start since coming off the disabled list. Padilla wasn't at his best against a depleted Mariners lineup, but he allowed just one unearned run on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Luis Mendoza followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Jamey Wright stumbled in the eighth, allowing two runs, but Madrigal got the Rangers out of that jam and then retired the side in the ninth for his first save.

"It's awesome," Madrigal said.

Good things have happened when Teagarden is behind the plate. The Rangers expect that. But he's also delivering at the plate, and that's still important to him, even though he hit just .211 in the Minor Leagues this season. He believes he's better than that.

"I think being a complete player makes you an everyday player in the big leagues," Teagarden said. "If I can contribute offensively like I know I can, I can be a good ballplayer at this level. It's just a matter of taking advantage of this opportunity and making the most of it."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.