Welcome to the new normal at Yankee Stadium and maybe the post-fire sale era may not be as bad as originally advertised.
Sure, the Yankees lost the ‘MC’ of their ‘No Run DMC’ bullpen, Carlos Beltran is now a Ranger and Ivan Nova is a Buc, but there’s still some talent in the Bronx.
And much like their crosstown rivals, if the Yankees can start playing up to the back of their baseball card, maybe they can have their proverbial cake and eat it too.
So the spotlight is on you, Mark Teixeira.
Without Beltran to anchor the lineup, Teixeira becomes the most important Yankee in Pinstripes. Hurt and diminished for most of the season, if the first baseman can have a revival over the final two months of the season, the Yankees may not be totally sunk in 2016.
After an eventful 1-3 day with a 3-run homer, two walks and a hit by pitch, Teixeira was undeniable the reason why the Yankees had a 9-5 win to open the Bronx portion of the Subway Series.
“He had a great night tonight,” said manager Joe Girardi. “That home run he hit, we had two outs in that inning and gave us the lead. He had a wonderful night.”
But it wasn’t just the home run. He scored from first on a double by Chase Headley in the first and caused a bench clearing incident when he was hit by Steven Matz in the fifth.
Even though, no punches were thrown, Teixeira’s words pretty much told the story.
“I know Matz is a good kid and I like him, but when you get hit by the next pitch after hitting a 3-run home run, it looks suspicious,” he said and if you read between the lines, he thought that pitch had purpose.
Funny thing is that wasn’t the strangest part of the game. In the seventh, the Mets Hansel Robles – for some reason – started to believe Teixeira was stealing the signs, so the veteran decided to mess with the mercurial righthander’s head.
“That was funny,” Teixeira said. “After three or four pitches he was staring at me thinking I have his pitches. Staring me down and saying something. I couldn’t hear him because of the crowd. So I started to have some fun with him. I didn’t have his signs, I was breathing. It got worse and worse and started to have some fun. If it was that bad, change your signs. We all got a kick out of that.
“I never got inside someone’s head by just standing there.”
So just another day at the office, even though Teixeira’s office was condemned for a while this season.
With Alex Rodriguez now persona non-grata and on the way to possibly being released, it’s up to Teixeira to become the big bopper in blue.
After this game, he’s still only hitting .198 with 10 homers and 27 RBI. If he can get somewhat hot, the Yankees still can finish this rebuilding year over .500 and still have that outside chance for the last Wild Card.
How can he do that? Well make adjustments of course.
“Physically my bats speed isn’t always where it should be,” Teixeira said. “Some night it is, but if you don’t have your bat speed…I try to take what’s given to me and go with the pitch.”
Remember, unlike A-Rod, Teixeira isn’t finished. He’s only 36 and wants to play next season. Although he may get a Spring Training invite from someone, the first baseman will be looking for some guaranteed money from some team.
That means, like these young players, these next two months are his audition too. He has to show that he can stay healthy and his bat speed has some pop left.
If that happens then sure, he could get a job from a team. Teixeira is a good guy, which goes a long way and if Jeff Francoeur can still find work, then Teixeira can easily be signed.
But, again, he needs to produce.
Look at what he did tonight. Let’s see if Teixeira can keep it going.