Commentary

Teixeira powers first-place Yanks

It wasn't an epic blast, but it counts as a grand slam -- and maybe a slump-buster

Updated: June 20, 2010, 11:14 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira didn't want to hear it.

He was asked on Sunday about the up-and-down nature of his season -- the periodic stops and starts that he's dealt with all year -- but Teixeira wasn't interested in broaching the subject on Sunday. After all, Teixeira reasoned, hadn't he just hit a grand slam?

Indeed, Teixeira's third-inning homer with the bases loaded provided all the offense the New York Yankees needed in a 4-0 win over the New York Mets.

"I hit a grand slam today. I hit a home run yesterday, too. I hit a home run against Roy Halladay. Next question," Teixeira said when someone tried to ask him about all of the cold streaks he's had to weather in 2010.

Teixeira has averaged 36 homers and 120 RBIs in his first eight seasons and he's only the fifth player to hit at least 25 homers in his first seven seasons. Still, his paltry numbers (.226 BA, 12 HRs, 44 RBIs) through the first 69 games of 2010 are a legitimate cause for concern. He was hitting .282 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs through 69 games in 2009.

CC Sabathia, for one, wants to believe that Teixeira is on his way to regaining his 2009 form.

"Tex is a pro ... I think we knew at some point that he was going to come out of this thing," said Sabathia, who shut the Mets down for eight innings to earn his eighth win of the season.

But Teixeira's resurgence is no sure thing, considering how inconsistent he's been so far in 2010.

He hit just .136 with two homers in April but bounced back in early May, going 12-for-30 in the first eight days of the month. That run was capped off with a three-homer game against the Boston Red Sox on May 8.

But Teixeira followed that with 24 hits in his next 112 at-bats and struck out five times in six plate appearances on June 5 at Toronto. He was on an 0-for-12 streak coming into this weekend's series with the Mets.

Teixeira hopes his performance in the second round of the Subway Series has him on track. He went 4-for-12 with two homers and five RBIs over the weekend against the Mets, helping the Yankees take sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 21.

"He's such an impactful player," manager Joe Girardi said of Teixeira. "I know this year has been somewhat of a struggle but we have so much confidence in him."

The Bombers' offense as a whole was sputtering prior to Saturday's five-run output against Mike Pelfrey. Before that 5-3 win, the Yankees had lost three straight, getting shut down by Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and Hisanori Takahashi. They entered today's game 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the Subway Series and went 2-for-9 in that situation on Sunday.

Two of the Yankees' three hits with runners in scoring position this weekend came courtesy of Teixeira, who homered off of Pelfrey on Saturday with Brett Gardner on second to tie the game at 3, and hit the big slam on Sunday.

Off a 1-1 fastball from Johan Santana, Teixeira's grand slam barely reached the left-field bleachers. He got the chance to hit with the bases loaded when Nick Swisher beat out a bunt to the right side with runners on first and second after Santana and Ruben Tejada got in one another's way at first base trying to take Ike Davis' throw.

Jerry Manuel called Teixeira's home run "a fly ball that ends up going out of here because of the ballpark." But that critique doesn't matter to Teixeira.

"I didn't get all of it, I just got enough of it to get it out," he said with a smile, happy to talk about the home run and hoping to keep the hot streak going into the Yankees' six-game road trip.

Just don't ask Teixeira about any of his recent baggage. He's planning to leave it behind.

Ian Begley is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

More from ESPNNewYork.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE