Commentary

Sure, Tex is OK -- with emphasis on K

Yankees first baseman fans five times in loss, says it's really not that big a deal

Updated: June 5, 2010, 10:28 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Mark Teixeira lived a nightmare, then he seemed to be in a dream world.

He had just struck out five times, dropped his average to .215 and acted as if nothing were wrong.

Teixeira rationalized it wasn't "really that big a deal." That he has struck out five times before. And it was just "one bad day," developing convenient amnesia of the other 55 games this season Teixeira has been mostly absent at the plate.

Whether you believe Teixeira is going finish with his back-of-his-baseball-card statistics or not, there is no denying this has gone on too long to dismiss. Still, Teixeira and Yankees manager Joe Girardi were dismissive about what it all means.

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Abelimages/Getty ImagesMark Teixeira's roller-coaster season: He hit .136 in April, .280 in May and now .214 in June.

"I didn't have a good April, obviously," Teixeira said after the Yankees lost a four-hour-plus, 14-inning marathon to the Blue Jays 3-2. "I had a good May. I had a bad day. You don't take a whole season in one day. I had a bad day. The last couple of days I've been feeling really good."

As the AL East tightens, Teixeira is becoming a huge problem. If the Blue Jays complete the sweep Sunday, they will be just a half-game behind the Yankees. Until proven otherwise, this is a four-team race, which means the Yankees' No. 3 hitter needs to be involved offensively.

On Saturday, Teixeira wasn't alone in failing at the plate, mind you. He just led the way. Teixeira's 0-for-6 low-lighted a 3-4-5-6 combo of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada that went 2-for-24. The Yankees matched their 1-for-9 with runners on scoring position Friday with another 1-for-9 on Saturday.

Still, most of all, it is Teixeira who looks milk-carton lost. Girardi said he has no plans "right now" to move Teixeira from the 3-hole.

Girardi said he believes in Teixeira. Girardi thinks it is just a matter of time before Teixeira is Teixeira. Maybe he will be right, but the time has not started yet.

"The last three days, I have swung the bat really well," Teixeira said. "You have one bad day, it's not really that big a deal."

The way Teixeira struck out, the way he said he couldn't see the ball sort of sounds like a big deal.

A scout told ESPNNewYork.com before Teixeira's five strikeouts that Teixeira "can't hit off speed-pitches" right now and that Teixeira is trying to play catch-up on his statistics. Over 162 games, Teixeira projects to have 23 homers and less than 100 RBIs.

By the eighth inning -- after Teixeira had struck out three times, unbelievably, on nine total pitches -- the same scout's analysis was more succinct. (See Yankees blog for complete breakdown of Teixeira vs. the change.)

"He's just screwed up," the scout said.

Not if you listen to Teixeira. He thinks he is just dandy. How does he explain the five strikeouts?

"I have done it before," said Teixeira, who did it seven years ago, which, incidentally, was the last season he didn't have 100 RBIs.

Teixeira maybe couldn't see what was going on Saturday, but anyone watching could. He was being toyed with and, just as the scout had said, it was all about the off-speed stuff.

In the third, Teixeira had RBIs waiting for him. Nick Swisher had just doubled and Teixeira walked to the plate to face Ricky Romero, who has one of the best changeups in baseball. It would be Teixeira's first good afternoon, good morning, good night strikeout.

Changeup. Good morning. Curveball. Good afternoon. Changeup. Good night.

In the fifth, Teixeira had his second good morning, good afternoon, good night at-bat. Romero used two changeups around a fastball to rock Teixeira to sleep.

In the eight, with a man on first, Romero used a fastball and two changeups. Three pitches for the third straight time, "Mr. Nothing is Wrong" walked back to the dugout.

In the 10th, with two on, two out and a chance to give the Yankees the lead, Teixeira, to his credit, took five pitches against the struggling Kevin Gregg before striking out.

In the 13th, he made it all the way to six pitches before Casey Janssen sent him packing.

"I was just not seeing the ball today," Teixeira said.

To be fair, it is hard to imagine that Teixeira, who just turned 30, is at his career midnight. But it's starting to get late.

GAME NOTES: The Yankees wasted another strong performance from Andy Pettitte, who pitched 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball. ... Pettitte did give up a 2-1 lead in the seventh when Alex Gonzalez hit a solo shot. Pettitte said he spent the rest of the day pacing the clubhouse, hoping for a base hit. He said that when the Yankees had a man in scoring position, he said, "Man, a bleeder here, get a run across and get Mo [Rivera] into this game." ... The Yankees' only runs came on Derek Jeter's opposite-field, two-run homer in the fifth. ... Chad Gaudin lost the game in the 14th on Aaron Hill's RBI single. Girardi said he would have used Rivera only in a tie game if he were going to pitch him two innings. ... Joba Chamberlain and Chan Ho Park both pitched well in relief. ... Trying to avoid the sweep, the Yankees send Javy Vazquez (4-5, 6.06 ERA) to the mound. Brandon Marrow (4-4, 6.00) starts for the Jays.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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