Commentary

Heat is off Yanks -- for a night, at least

With game-time temperature at 100, Swisher and Teixeira go yard and ease scrutiny

Updated: July 23, 2011, 2:49 AM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Stand the heat? Nick Swisher didn't even notice it.

Playing in scorching, triple-digit temperatures at Yankee Stadium on Friday night, Swisher and Mark Teixeira combined for nine RBIs in the New York Yankees' 17-7 bludgeoning of the Oakland A's.

"Was it really 100 degrees out there?" asked Swisher, who broke a 63 at-bat homerless streak with a three-run shot in the third inning and later added a two-run double in the seventh to tie his career-high with five RBIs. "Because it didn't feel like it."

"July has not been kind to me," said Teixeira, whose third-inning grand slam snapped a 70 at-bat homerless stretch. "Hopefully this will get me going."

The only thing that put a damper on the Yankees' night? Phil Hughes was awful.

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
AP Photo/Bill KostrounMark Teixeira's third-inning grand slam was his first homer since June 30.

The right-handed starter couldn't locate, didn't have his normal bite on the curveball and his fastball velocity was topping out at 91-92 mph. The 25-year-old couldn't even hold a 12-run lead, and was pulled one out into the fifth after allowing seven earned runs.

"It's frustrating," Hughes said.

The Yankees scored just 30 runs during a recent eight-game road trip, but they established season highs on Friday night in runs scored (17) and runs scored in an inning (nine in the third). And Swisher and Teixeira delivered the big blows in the third.

"They're big," Curtis Granderson, the only Yankee who failed to get a hit, said of the homers. "Anytime you can get runners on and get those runners home with one swing of the bat is a plus.

"Swish has been swinging the bat well, and Tex is one of the most powerful guys in baseball, and he proved that again [Friday]. To have those two guys do what they did is amazing, especially in one inning."

Teixeira came in hitting .224 in 17 July games. Even worse were his .284 slugging percentage and seven walks in 74 plate appearances.

"I'm streaky," said Teixeira, who hit cleanup and served as the designated hitter Friday night. "I blame my father for making me a switch-hitter.

"It's very frustrating at times. I've been trying to get my timing down, but no matter what, I'm just not a natural left-handed hitter. Right-handed I always feel the same, but left-handed, sometimes I just get up there and it feels like I've never hit [left-handed] before."

You wouldn't have known it by watching Teixeira take reliever Michael Wuertz deep into the right-field seats with a picture-perfect left-handed upper-cut swing to give the Yankees a commanding 14-2 lead.

"It doesn't happen very often," said Teixeira, who led off the nine-run, third-inning outburst with a walk before belting his 26th jack of the season. "But I was happy with the way the inning ended up for us."

Prior to drilling a three-run bomb off right-hander Trevor Cahill, who will leave the Big Apple with a 27.00 ERA in two career starts at Yankee Stadium, Swisher hadn't homered since June 28. But he got a hold of a 3-2 curveball, and the ball soared over center fielder Coco Crisp's glove and into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center field.

"Man, if he catches that ball, I'm gonna be [mad]," Swisher joked. "I was just trying to get one run in."

Not too long ago, Swisher was in a funk. On May 28, he was hitting just .206. But he turned it around -- and he isn't looking back.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesNick Swisher's three-run homer gave the Yankees an 8-2 lead.

"I don't even think about that stuff," said Swisher, who has hit eight of his 11 homers in 2011 from the left side of the plate. "I'm so far past that. I'm in such a good place right now, and I'm just trying to keep it here."

Manager Joe Girardi decided to change his lineup Friday night, in an effort to try to instill some life in their lifeless at-bats.

Left fielder Brett Gardner stayed in the leadoff spot for the second consecutive game. Derek Jeter remained in the No. 2 hole. Granderson was moved to third, with Teixeira protecting him and hitting fourth.

Girardi clearly pushed the right buttons. Gardner singled, drove in a run and scored. Jeter added two singles and three RBIs, and Granderson reached base three times.

"It makes our lineup deeper with how well Gardy's going," Teixeira said.

Girardi said he's going to keep his order the same on Saturday afternoon, when the Yankees and A's resume their three-game series in what is expected to be another scorcher at the Stadium.

Swisher said Friday's onslaught "was exactly what we needed.

"The road trip didn't go the way we wanted it to," he said, "but it was nice to go out there [Friday] and play the way we did."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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