Two-out rally lifts Yankees over Indians
Jeter, Teixeira come up big in seventh to seal matinee win
NEW YORK -- For the better part of a week, Mark Teixeira has been promising to cut back on his batting practice swings, believing that he might be able to save a little something extra for the games.
It might be working. Teixeira discovered an opportune time to call upon one of his reserved cuts in the seventh inning on Sunday, swatting a go-ahead, three-run homer that helped lift the Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Indians at Yankee Stadium.
"If I have a slow bat, I'm not going to be successful," Teixeira said. "Nothing's ever come easy to me my entire career, I've always had to work at it. Sometimes you just overdo it too much. I've taken a step back, and the last week, I've really felt good at the plate."
Teixeira's blast off Tribe left-hander Tony Sipp cleared the left-field wall and put A.J. Burnett in position to log his sixth victory of the season after hanging in to limit the Indians to three runs (one earned) over eight innings.
Derek Jeter came through with a two-run, two-out single in the seventh that chased Cleveland's very effective Justin Masterson, and after the Yankees tacked on a couple of eighth-inning runs facing Jensen Lewis, Mariano Rivera leaped over the shrapnel of a broken bat to record the afternoon's final out.
"If there was ever a formula for baseball, that's it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You can't draw it up any better."
The Yankees have come to accept that Teixeira might have slow Aprils for the rest of his career, but some of that has crept into May. Though Teixeira entered play Sunday with 30 hits and 22 RBIs this month, compared to 11 hits and nine RBIs in April, he has still been looking for more consistency.
"You can't take the whole season in one big chunk," Teixeira said. "You have to really break it down. If you have a couple of bad at-bats, you're not just going to quit. You're not going to pack up your stuff and go home. So that's the way I've always played."
Perhaps his swat of Sipp's hanging slider will prove to be the turning point.
The first baseman's 250th career homer and eighth of the season came as part of New York's five-run seventh inning, as the Bombers finally cracked through after being stifled through six scoreless frames by Masterson.
"I haven't worried about Tex one bit," said Nick Swisher, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. "All you've got to do is check the back of his baseball card and that's pretty much all I need to see. He's a guy that grinds, he battles, he works his tail off every single day."
"For the most part, May has been pretty decent [for Teixeira]," Girardi said. "Most of his home runs have come, and a lot of RBIs. Maybe we're going to turn the calendar to June, and it will just be straight forward."
Jeter's two-run single chased the sinkerballing Masterson, who was hit for three runs in 6 2/3 innings. It also helped atone for Jeter's throwing error in the top half of the inning, where the Indians got two unearned runs off Burnett, with the damage coming after there were two outs.
Burnett hit Luis Valbuena in the left foot with a pitch and, after a stolen base, Lou Marson rolled a grounder to deep short. Jeter's throw pulled Teixeira off first base as the second Indians run scored, and Jason Donald took advantage by bashing a run-scoring triple off the right-field wall.
"You've got to have a short memory," Jeter said. "I wasn't thinking about what happened the inning before. If that's the case, you'd go crazy thinking about all of that stuff."
The same was true for the rest of the Yankees, who needed to wipe the slate clean after their worst loss of the season on Saturday. New York blew a 10-4 lead to Cleveland for a final outcome of 13-11, which made it all the more important that Burnett gave the beleaguered bullpen a breather.
"That was my goal coming into today -- to hand the ball over to Mo in the ninth inning," Burnett said. "Whatever was going on out there, I was just trying to go one pitch at a time to try and get to the next inning and get it to the ninth to give those guys a break."
Mission accomplished, as Burnett limited Cleveland to one earned run -- Trevor Crowe's RBI single in the third inning -- on five hits, walking none and striking out eight. Burnett hit two batters in the 115-pitch effort, saying that he trusted sooner or later the run support for New York's 14th comeback win of 2010 would show up.
"I wasn't trying to be too perfect or too fine," Burnett said. "I wasn't trying to hit the corners. I had good stuff and good movement. I didn't walk anybody, because I wasn't trying to be perfect."
No, he wasn't his former Toronto teammate and one-time mentor Roy Halladay, but for the Yankees' purposes, Burnett was plenty good enough. Girardi even entertained the idea of bringing in Joba Chamberlain, who was warming with Damaso Marte, for the eighth inning.
But with Burnett cruising on his way to his first win against the Indians since June 20, 2002, the manager saw no need to pick up the bullpen phone, and he was rewarded in the end for his faith.
"A.J. did everything that you could ask him to do, and it was exactly what we needed," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.