Teixeira powers Yankees
His 2-run shot in 7th beats Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Mark Teixeira is aching from hand to toe.
He’s had cortisone shots in his hand and played with a broken toe, but as he put it last night, “No time to take a few days off and let things heal. I just have to go out there and do the best I can to help us win.’’
On the guts meter, Teixeira is registering a 10. Last night he launched a two-run home run in the seventh inning off reliever Jesse Crain, breaking a 4-4 tie and leading the Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Twins to take Game 1 of their Division Series, the first playoff game ever at Target Field.
The Yankees, trailing, 3-0, at one time to Francisco Liriano, who was dominating the first five innings, continued to prove they’re capable of coming back from any deficit.
“Our lineup is so deep, there’s no reason to ever give up,’’ Teixeira said.
After a so-so outing from CC Sabathia (six innings, four runs, three walks, five strikeouts) the Yankees’ bats came alive in the sixth inning, when they scored four runs. A two-run triple by Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead, but in the bottom of the inning Sabathia walked Danny Valencia with the bases loaded, one of three walks that inning, to make it 4-4 after six.
There was a theory the Yankees were fortunate to lose the AL East because they got to play the Twins as the wild card, thus avoiding the Rangers and Cliff Lee. If they had lost to Lee, they indeed may have been in deep trouble, as they don’t have a hot rotation and may need to score a lot of runs.
The Yankees’ bullpen pitched well, with curveball specialist Dave Robertson wiggling out of a jam in the seventh. Kerry Wood got two outs but put two on in the eighth, before Mariano Rivera retired Denard Span (after falling behind 3 and 0). He then shut down the Twins in the ninth for his 40th postseason save in 45 chances.
The Yankees improved to 10-2 against the Twins in the playoffs since 2003.
The umpires had their first postseason meltdown with two outs in the Twins’ ninth when right field umpire Chris Guccione missed a shoestring catch by Greg Golson on a sinking liner by Delmon Young, but Rivera got Jim Thome to pop out to end the game.
“I knew from the moment he caught it that it was a catch,’’ said Teixeira. “You don’t always get those, but we were fortunate to get the last out and it didn’t matter.’’
Granderson made a slight adjustment in his swing back in mid-August that saved his season from being a disaster.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi fielded a pregame question on why he had Granderson in the lineup against Liriano, against whom he had hit .182 in his career, and Girardi said he was throwing out all of Granderson’s numbers against lefties because he’s so much better now. Good decision.
“I was just able to see the ball come out of his hand really well,’’ Granderson said. “I always felt confident against him, but I just put myself in a good position to get a big hit there.’’
In the sixth, Teixeira stayed with one of Liriano’s sharp sliders and stroked a double to left with one out. He went to third on a wild pitch and after a walk to Alex Rodriguez, Teixeira scored on Robinson Cano’s single to right under the glove of Michael Cuddyer at first.
With runners at first and second, Liriano went 3 and 1 to Jorge Posada before he stroked an RBI single to right to reduce the Twins’ lead to 3-2. Up came Granderson, who was 0 for 2 in his first two at-bats before ending Liriano’s outing with the triple.
Sabathia hit Thome off the right shoulder with a pitch in the second before surrendering a two-run homer to Cuddyer on a 2-and-0 fastball right down the middle. Sabathia also allowed a JJ Hardy double in the inning, but wiggled out of further harm.
The Twins added one more run in the third, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd watching outdoor playoff baseball on a comfortable fall night. Sabathia allowed a single to left to Orlando Hudson. Joe Mauer then hit a slow grounder to Teixeira at first base, who had to dive for the bag to beat Mauer’s head-first slide. Hudson, who had been going with the pitch, motored toward third as Teixeira picked up himself up and tried to throw to the bag, but Rodriguez, who had been shading to the shortstop side of third, didn’t get back in time to take the throw.
Hudson scored on a passed ball with Young at the plate.
“Hudson just made a great play there,’’ Teixeira said. “I had to dive to the bag to get the out and by the time I got up, he was on his way to third.’’
The two things that hurt his hand and his foot are swinging and missing, and diving.
“I guess I just can’t swing and miss,’’ Teixeira said.
Last night he connected, and it hurt so good.