Teixeira hopes homer is turning point
Slugger looking to find his groove in first World Series
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira has been searching for his regular-season form all postseason.
A walk-off home run in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Minnesota didn't produce a hot streak. Neither did four hits in the final two games of the AL Championship Series against the Angels; Teixeira went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Wednesday's World Series opener.
Perhaps Thursday's solo homer will help New York's first baseman along. Teixeira slugged a 1-0 changeup from Pedro Martinez for a game-tying homer in the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Phillies in Game 2 of the World Series.
"I think it was just a high changeup, and I wanted to be aggressive off him," said Teixeira, who led the AL in homers and RBIs during the regular season. "I mean, if you get down in the count against Pedro with the way that his offspeed pitches were being thrown tonight, he was going to put you away. I saw a pitch up in the zone and I let it fly."
Teixeira entered Thursday's game with an 8-for-43 (.186) line in the postseason, and six of those hits were singles. After a popup in his first at-bat, Teixeira was off to an 0-for-5 start in his first World Series. One swing made those numbers an afterthought.
"We've had so many days off, and Tex seems to be a rhythm hitter," manager Joe Girardi said. "Getting to play, I think, is important."
The run represented the first meaningful one of the series for the Yankees, who, while trailing by six runs in Game 1, scratched across an unearned run in the ninth inning on Wednesday.
"We hadn't done much offensively all series, and Pedro was pitching great," Teixeira said. "We tip our hats to him. But I think the home run got the crowd back in it, it evened the game."
Two innings later, Hideki Matsui hit another solo homer to give the Yankees their first lead of the series. They scraped across another run in the seventh and held on as Philadelphia put the tying run on base in the eighth and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth against closer Mariano Rivera.
|ALDS, Game 1||4||0||0||0||0||0|
|ALDS, Game 2||5||2||2||1||1||0|
|ALDS, Game 3||1||0||0||0||1||1|
|ALCS, Game 1||5||0||1||0||0||2|
|ALCS, Game 2||5||0||0||0||0||1|
|ALCS, Game 3||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|ALCS, Game 4||5||1||1||0||0||2|
|ALCS, Game 5||5||1||2||0||3||1|
|ALCS, Game 6||4||0||2||0||1||0|
|WS, Game 1||4||0||0||0||0||2|
|WS, Game 2||3||1||1||1||1||1|
"It kind of put a little bit of a crack in their armor," Teixeira said. "They had pitched so well the first two games, and for us to get a run, and then Matsui's home run, was just huge for our confidence."
During the regular season, Teixeira took turns with Alex Rodriguez in supplying the team's power. Sometimes, both rode hot streaks at once. After a scorching first two rounds, Rodriguez is still looking for his first World Series hit. But Teixeira's blast helped take some pressure off the man who hits directly behind him.
"The first couple series, Alex carried the entire offense, really, and he hasn't gotten any hits," Teixeira said. "I'm going to bet that Alex is going to be fine the rest of the series. And if not, then hopefully me or a couple other guys are going to step it up and do what we've done all season."
Teixeira's homer came minutes after he applied the tag on Jose Molina's pickoff of Jayson Werth at first base. Two outs later, the Yankees were in the dugout and ready to watch Teixeira's ball head toward the team's bullpen in right-center field.
"I think all season our defense has been so underrated," Teixeira said. "People can talk about our big-name pitchers and Mariano and the home runs we hit, but I don't think we're in this position without our defense."
Without Teixeira's homer, the Yankees may not have been in position to tie the World Series as it shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Teixeira's final two plate appearances resulted in a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch. Does his solo shot represent the start of a hot streak, or is it simply a blip? Time will tell. But it did help turn around a game, and it may end up having turned around the World Series.
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.