Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tex's season starting to look special
By Rob Parker ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Right now, Mark Teixeira is worth the price of admission at Yankee Stadium -- all by himself.
Night after night, game after game, you can't help but shake your head after watching Teixeira take his rips at the plate.
Wednesday night was no different.
Mark Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate for the 11th time Wednesday -- tying Chili Davis and Eddie Murray for the MLB record.
In fact, New York Yankees fans were treated to two home runs -- one from each side of the plate -- by the switch-hitting first baseman.
In the Yankees' 12-4 victory over the Texas Rangers, Tex went 3-for-5 with four RBIs. It was a suitable-for-framing performance that made you appreciate how fortunate the Yankees are to have him anchoring first base.
In no way is this a prisoner-of-the-moment reaction to a big night at the big Ball Orchard in the South Bronx. Not at all.
While everyone is raving about Boston's Adrian Gonzalez -- and for good reason -- the Yankees are better off with Teixeira. He does everything you want your first baseman to do.
Best of all, you've got to believe Tex can play even better, that he hasn't peaked by any means. And that's saying a lot when you consider he had at least 100 runs scored, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in each of his first two seasons with the Yankees.
Teixeira has something special going this season. His two home runs tied him for the major league lead with teammate Curtis Granderson and Toronto's Jose Bautista. "You go back to last month," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been really swinging the bat for us. It seems as the summer goes on, he really heats up, and that's what he's done."
In the first inning, Teixeira, batting right-handed, tied the game with a two-run homer to left field. In the sixth, Teixeira, batting left-handed, blasted a two-run homer to right field. It was the 11th time in his career that he has homered from both sides of the plate in a game, tying Chili Davis and Eddie Murray for the most such games all-time. "I hit some fastballs today and felt good about it," Teixeira said.
It was special night for Teixeira, who grew up in Baltimore and wanted to be like Murray. "Eddie Murray's the reason I'm a switch-hitter," he said. "My dad and I loved watching him play. My dad would say, 'We're going to the game tonight, is Eddie going to hit one from the right side or the left side.' It's pretty neat to be a part of that group."
Teixeira's 296 career homers are the most by a switch-hitter through his first nine seasons. Mickey Mantle is second with 280.
Teixeira was an absolute great free-agent signing by the Yankees. He has been all that was advertised and more. And the Yankees did win a World Series his first season in pinstripes in 2009.
Want to get the scoop on everything in pinstripes? ESPNNewYork.com has you covered. Blog
Teixeira is one of those players you appreciate when you watch him day in and day out. There's a hard work and toughness to him that makes you admire what he's been able to accomplish. He was hit on the knee in last week's Red Sox series and forced to leave the game. Yet he came right back and played the next game.
Not only can he hit, but he hits with power as well. He is also a tremendous fielder, winning his fourth straight Gold Glove last season. We saw that in the seventh inning Wednesday night, when Teixeira turned a line drive at him into an inning-ending double play. Tex leads all active first basemen with a .99643 career fielding percentage.
As we bask in all of Teixeira's glory, many forget his start in the Big Apple. He couldn't hit to save his life. It's not the way you want to start in a pressure-packed city after signing a cash-crazy, $180 million deal for eight years.
Most chalked it up to his history of starting seasons slow. Some, though, panicked and wondered if the pressure of playing on such a big stage might affect his ability to perform. In April of 2009 and 2010, he batted a woeful .166 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 41 games. As we found out, they were just slow starts.
This year was different, though. Teixeira came out swinging. This March and April alone, Teixeira had six homers and 16 RBIs in 23 games. It was a welcome sight, and helped the Yankees get off to a good start this season.
"This does feel like one of those runs that I can hopefully keep up," Teixeira said. "I'd love to have a special season. There's no doubt."