Teixeira kicking it into another gear

Teixeira kicking it into another gear

SEATTLE -- There's another gear that Mark Teixeira believes he can find between second and third base, though it historically hasn't been one that he's needed to use very often.

The Yankees slugger may be no speedster, but he's been playing the role of one this week. Teixeira has tripled three times in his past five games, most recently chugging to complete a first-inning RBI triple off the center-field fence on Saturday.

"You kind of chuckle a little bit inside your head," Teixeira said. "Baseball's funny that way. You can see all kinds of stats that just blow your mind."

Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Minnesota's Denard Span need not worry atop the American League triples leaderboard -- Teixeira isn't coming for them anytime soon.

But one day after he came up a double shy of the cycle, shining in a two-homer, five-RBI performance, Teixeira has offered the Yankees plenty of reminders why they were so hot and heavy to acquire his services as a free agent heading into this season.

"A guy like Tex, you know that he's a great player, but I don't think you can appreciate it as much [until] you see him every day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You see all the little things that he does. You might play him in a three-game series and not see those things."

With 37 home runs, Teixeira ranks second in the American League behind Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena (39) and leads the circuit with 118 RBIs. CC Sabathia doesn't have a vote for the MVP Award, but that hasn't stopped him from campaigning for Teixeira.

"Just the runs he saves on defense, making every play over there at first," Sabathia said. "That alone I think deserves votes for the MVP, if you look at what he's been doing defensively, never mind the 37 homers and leading the league in RBIs."

Saturday marked the third time this season that Teixeira has homered from both sides of the plate, and the fourth multihomer game of the season.

"For me, it's just being consistent," Teixeira said. "I think that's what I've been the proudest of in my career, that I've been consistent.

"You look at my career averages, and I'm a little bit above or a little bit below every category every year of my career. Fluctuations happen, but I just feel like I came in here with the same mindset that I've had every single year, and I've had the same kind of season."

Teixeira said that he took a good amount of ribbing after his ninth-inning home run on Saturday, a shot that came as he needed a double to complete a cycle. One voice in the dugout playfully called Teixeira an "overachiever," which he laughed at, but the Yankees shouldn't have any complaints about where their first baseman has helped take them in 2009.

"We're happy with where we are right now, but this part of the season; we're really looking for a lot more," Teixeira said. "We want to play very good baseball to end the season out, hopefully win the division, but everybody in here has very high expectations for this team. No one is satisfied right now."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Joba Chamberlain (8-5, 4.39 ERA)
Chamberlain will keep increasing his pitch count after firing four innings in his last effort on Monday against the Angels, a start which he viewed as major progress, making only one mistake -- a solo homer to Vladimir Guerrero on a hanging curveball. The new "Joba Rules" are allowing him to go longer into starts after he threw three straight three-inning outings from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9. Chamberlain last faced Seattle on Aug. 16 at Safeco Field and allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings, taking his third loss.

SEA: RHP Ian Snell (6-10, 5.17 ERA)
The bullpen ended up squandering a lead in Snell's last start, but it was still one of the better ones he's had in a Seattle uniform. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits in six innings, striking out four. If the 'pen could have held on the 3-2 lead he had when he exited after throwing just 84 pitches, he would have won his fifth game in six starts. Snell didn't have much luck against the Yankees the last time he faced them, surrendering eight runs on nine hits over six innings.

Tidbits
Hideki Matsui's 26th homer Saturday surpassed Don Baylor's 1984 club record for most home runs by a designated hitter. ... Robinson Cano went 4-for-5 on Saturday and extended his hitting streak to eight games (.438, 14-for-32). He has hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games. ... Cano leads all active big leaguers with a .351 (174-for-496) regular-season average in September and October with a minimum of 300 plate appearances. ... Jorge Posada has served his three-game suspension stemming from an eighth-inning altercation on Tuesday against the Blue Jays, and he will be reinstated to the roster Sunday.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-6, 4.14) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 13-7, 4.75), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Yankees (Chad Gaudin) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 7-8, 5.43), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (A.J. Burnett) at Angels (Scott Kazmir, 9-8, 5.08), 3:35 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.