NEW YORK -- With three games remaining in the regular season and a tie with Baltimore atop the American League East, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to start rookie David Phelps on Tuesday against the Red Sox rather than scheduled starter Ivan Nova, who has struggled of late.
Girardi told the pair of the change before Monday's series opener at Yankee Stadium after waiting to see if he would need Phelps as a long reliever over the weekend in Toronto.
"It's awesome. It's a big game," Phelps said. "We need these three coming home. To know they have faith in me going out there to give us a chance to win, it's a big deal."
It will be the 11th start of Phelps' career and first since Sept. 19, when he returned to the bullpen in the wake of Andy Pettitte's return from the disabled list.
Nova posted a 6.83 ERA in his past 10 starts on either side of a short DL stint with shoulder soreness, and he will move to the bullpen, according to Girardi.
"He's the manager and he's doing the best that's for the team," said Nova, who acknowledged he was disappointed and wants to start but isn't surprised by the decision given his lack of command. "That's what I think. If he thinks that's the best way, I'll go there."
Two of Phelps' 10 career starts came against the Red Sox, along with two relief appearances. The righty is 1-1 against Boston as a starter with a 2.92 ERA and a 3.44 ERA in all four appearances, and he believes his familiarity with the lineup will serve him well.
It will undoubtedly be the biggest start of the 25-year-old's career. When Phelps started an early September game against Baltimore, he admitted he felt the pressure of a pennant race early on and allowed four runs in the first inning before settling down.
"I want to pitch," Phelps said. "I want to pitch in big games, and they don't get a whole lot bigger than down the stretch in a pennant race."
Teixeira hits two-run homer in return to lineup
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira had proven that he was ready to return to the Yankees' lineup by sprinting around the bases, but fortunately for him, all that was needed on Monday was a slow trot.
Teixeira blasted a long two-run homer as part of the Yankees' nine-run second inning, reporting no issues as he played seven innings in New York's 10-2 drubbing of the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"It's a big relief," said Teixeira, who went 1-for-3 with a walk. "I didn't really know what to expect, but it was a great game all around. Not having to test it this early, I'd love to get a few games under my belt and if I have to beat out a double play or stretch a single into a double later, I'll definitely feel better about it."
Teixeira had missed the last 20 games and 30 of the Yankees' last 31 with a strained left calf, but now that he has healed, Teixeira said that he expects to play in the last two remaining regular-season games as well as throughout the entire postseason run.
"It's nice to have him back in there," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been an extremely productive hitter for us, outstanding first baseman. It's really good to have him back."
Teixeira was cleared to play after taking part in intrasquad games at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla. He rushed back after injuring his calf Aug. 27 and missed the next 10 games, aggravating it on Sept. 8 in Baltimore and missing every game since. The Yankees went 14-6 during that stretch.
"It feels a lot better than when I came back the first time in Baltimore," Teixeira said. "That's why I feel more comfortable this time."
Teixeira said that he wants to keep playing first base, believing it will keep him looser than serving as a designated hitter, but he still feels some tightness. He said that he will take his time running the bases when possible in an effort to avoid re-injuring his calf.
"Hopefully there's no issues if I have to go take it to another level," Teixeira said. "I really only have a couple levels. Speed really isn't my game, but if I do have to leg out a double or score on a single from second base, that would be a good test for me."
Mesa comes off bench to notch first hit, RBI
NEW YORK -- Melky Mesa notched his first Major League hit in the Yankees' 10-2 win over the Red Sox on Monday, connecting for a pinch-hit RBI single off Andrew Bailey in the eighth inning.
"It's exciting. I just feel good about it," said the 25-year-old Mesa. "I never give up. I'm just waiting for the opportunity for so long. I'm taking it and now I just take advantage."
Mesa signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in July 2003 and spent seven years in the Minors, batting .264 with 23 homers and 67 RBIs in 121 games between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.
Mesa beamed at first base as coach Mick Kelleher called for the ball, which Mesa planned to send to his father, Inocencio, in his hometown of Bajos de Haina in the Dominican Republic. Manager Joe Girardi later congratulated Mesa by giving him the lineup card from Monday's game.
"My dad is one of the most important people in my life. I need to get it to him," Mesa said.
Gardner candidate to make postseason roster
NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner swung a bat in a Major League game for the first time since April, yet another encouraging indication that the Yankees may carry him on their postseason roster.
Gardner appeared as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter in the Yankees' 10-2 win over the Red Sox, grounding out against Andrew Bailey. It was the first plate appearance for Gardner, the Yankees' Opening Day left fielder, since undergoing arthroscopic right elbow surgery in late July.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Gardner is now cleared to be a full player, though he hasn't seen enough game action to appear in the starting lineup.
"The hard thing is getting him at-bats," Girardi said. "I tried to pick a spot tonight where I knew he'd see a right-hander. I didn't want him to face [left-hander] Andrew Miller his first at-bat back."
Girardi said that the Yankees would certainly consider carrying Gardner as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, however. They did something similar in 2009, carrying speedster Freddy Guzman for the American League Championship Series against the Angels.
"It's definitely something you have to think about now," Girardi said. "When you talk about a playoff roster, sometimes you have one extra spot for that runner. Now that he's a full player, it makes it a little bit different."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.