NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira bristled for a moment after Sunday's 4-0 win over the Mets when asked about his recent struggles. Teixeira pointed out his grand slam off Johan Santana. Then his home run Saturday off Mike Pelfrey. And finally his home run on Tuesday off Roy Halladay.
Teixeira, as much as anyone on the Yankees, was at his best against the tough pitchers the Bombers faced this week. Just as impressive, his Saturday long ball came from the left side of the plate, while his Sunday grand slam was as a righty.
"When I can hit a home run left-handed yesterday and a home run right-handed today, hopefully that can get things rolling for me," Teixeira said.
The Yankees certainly hope so. Teixeira's slow start burst beyond the confines of April and had extended for almost half the season. As uncharacteristically low as his numbers have been, they were bolstered only by a two-week hot streak at the start of May. Subtract the period from May 1 to May 17, and Teixeira would still be hitting below .200. He hit five of his 12 home runs and drove in 21 of his 44 runs during that same stretch.
That's why, until Sunday, most figured that the Yankees were tied with the Rays in the American League East in spite of Teixeira. On Sunday, they moved into sole possession of first because of him.
His third-inning slam came on a 1-1 fastball that Santana did not get down and in enough. Teixeira didn't get all of it, he said, but it was enough to reach the first row over the auxiliary scoreboard in left field.
"It can ignite your offense," Alex Rodriguez said of a potential hot streak from the hitter who precedes him in the lineup.
It may be coincidence that Teixeira's three home runs this week came against the toughest competition he faced. But it's not one that they all came in Bombers' victories.
"He is such an impactful player," manager Joe Girardi said. "I know this year has been somewhat of a struggle for him, but we have so much confidence in him because of what he's done in the past and what he did here last year. For us, it was just a matter of time. When he gets hot and gets on a roll, he can really carry a team."