Baker's one mistake costs Twins
Righty perfect through 5 2/3 innings, but gives up homer
MINNEAPOLIS -- For the third time this season, Scott Baker ended up on the wrong side of a 1-0 game.
After cruising through the first 5 2/3 innings with a perfect game against the Rangers on Sunday, Baker gave up the game's only run to an unlikely hero -- Rangers rookie catcher Taylor Teagarden.
In the sixth inning, Teagarden took a pitch that was low in the strike zone and belted it just over the left-center-field fence for the first hit of the game and the first hit of his Major League career.
"We don't know much about him," Baker said of Teagarden. "When you have a young guy come up like that, you know he's going to be aggressive, and that's all you really know. I think I would have chosen to treat the situation a little differently after I've had the chance to sit down and think about it. Maybe think about a breaking ball in that situation, but it's easy to say that now."
"Baker was throwing so well at that point, I got into a situation where it was two outs, 3-2 count, and I figured he was going to come with his best fastball -- and he did," Teagarden said. "I just tried to put a nice easy swing on it and make contact."
Despite the outcome, it was another stellar game for Baker, who suffered his first loss since June 15. The eight innings were a season high and it was his 10th quality start of the season. He struck out eight, but the run support was lacking again.
"Baker was really good, and we didn't have too many opportunities," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We didn't get it done today. We didn't come up with a big hit, and they pitched very, very well. We won two out of three, but it's disappointing when you pitch like that and you don't get the win."
Over his last 10 starts, Baker has a 2.89 ERA but has a 4-3 record because the Twins have been held to a total of 27 runs.
"He's throwing good. If he stays healthy and can stay on the mound, he gives us some great opportunities," Gardenhire said. "He's fun to watch, moves the ball in and out and uses his breaking balls, a lot of deception."
Minnesota's offense only managed three hits, all off Rangers starter Vicente Padilla. The Twins couldn't take advantage of leadoff walks by Padilla in the second and sixth innings with double plays erasing those runners.
Delmon Young led off the fifth inning with a single but was forced out at second when Brian Buscher hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Then with Brendan Harris batting, Buscher mixed up hit-and-run signals and ran into an out at second.
Until the bottom of the ninth, the Twins didn't advance a runner beyond first base.
With Rangers closer C.J. Wilson on the mound and two outs on the board, Joe Mauer drew a two-out walk. He then motored all the way to third on a wild pitch. Home Run Derby champion and All-Star Justin Morneau came to the plate with the winning run just 90 feet away but could not convert. After swinging at a pitch that hit his hands, Morneau grounded out to second base.
"We don't quit until the last out," right fielder Denard Span said. "With how we've been playing lately, we always feel we can come back whether we're down one run or 10 runs."
The Twins still managed to take two of three from the Rangers to win the first series after the break. And the pitching staff continued to perform well -- they allowed just three runs over the course of the series and the three hits allowed by the staff on Sunday matches a season low.
"Good pitching is contagious, for the sheer fact of watching what they're doing to the hitter," Baker said. "If whatever they're doing is effective and they're getting guys out, then why even try to do something different? Until a hitter makes an adjustment, that's the whole idea is to watch. We feed off each other."
Leslie Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.