Yankees Notebook: Chavez on win streaks, Teixeira on Chipper

Eric Chavez and Oakland's 20-game winning streak was featured prominently in last year's film "Moneyball."

Mickey Mantle appeared on nine teams that won at least 10 straight games. Joe DiMaggio appeared on four while Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig appeared on two.

In terms of active Yankees, only Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez remain from the last team to win 10 straight in May 2005. This run gives Jeter and Rodriguez three 10-game winning streaks and Cano two.

But there is someone who can trump Jeter, Cano and Rodriguez — Eric Chavez, who started at third base as the Yankees tried to win 11 in a row Tuesday night for the first time since Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, 1985.

Chavez appeared in four double-digit winning streaks for Oakland, appearing in an 11-game run in Aug. 2001, an AL-record 20 straight wins in 2002 and 10-game winning streaks in 2003 and 2006.

While he could not recall details of the winning streaks in 2001, 2003 and 2006, he remembered the streak that broke the mark set by the 1906 White Sox and matched the 1947 Yankees.

“There was talk of a strike going on; so that was in the headlines,” Chavez said. “We had 14 or 15 in a row and nobody even knew it because we were talking about the strike. We got the strike settled and that was very comforting to everybody and we ended up winning 20 games in a row.

“But once you get to a certain point, you need a lot of luck; you need breaks. I think we’re at a point where we got that call in Washington and things like that have to go your way for it to continue.”

Chavez could not recall any specific break during the record-setting run, which featured 13 games decided by three runs or less. However, Oakland’s final four games of that run were decided in its final at-bat.

That includes a 12-11 win over Kansas City. Oakland went up big, Chavez was lifted in the early innings only to see Kansas City tie it before Scott Hatteberg’s home run won it in the ninth.

“I was actually out of the game,” Chavez said. “It was 9-0 and they pulled me out in the fourth inning. I was up in the clubhouse and they came back and I refused to come watch the game because I was so nervous. I wasn’t even on the field when Hatteberg hit the home run. I was in the clubhouse. Some things like that, you’re up 9-0, 10-0, they come back and you end up winning.”

The Yankees have won two games in their last at-bat during this streak. They came back from down 3-0 against the Mets on June 10, from four runs down two nights later in Atlanta and won in the 14th inning Saturday in Washington.

“It’s a good feeling,” Chavez said. “We knew we have a good team even when we were at the bottom of the division a few weeks ago there was really no panic because we have the players to put some winning streaks together.”

Teixeira talks Chipper

Mark Teixeira appeared in 157 games with the Braves in 2007 and 2008 and put up 37 home runs and 134 runs in a period that spanned the non-waiver trade deadlines of both seasons.

It was during those years that he got to experience playing with Chipper Jones, who is retiring at the end of the season.

“I loved playing with Chipper, especially with me being a switch-hitter,” Teixeira said. “I learned a lot from him and just enjoyed hitting behind him for a year.”

In the 54 games he played in Atlanta during 2007, Teixeira was a .300 hitter against both lefties and righties. In the 103 games the following year, he batted .291 against righties and .261 off lefties and for Teixeira, he can’t help but think some of Jones’ influence rubbed off.

“Just being a switch-hitter and how you approach different pitchers and how to approach your swing from both sides of the plate. It was fun to watch.”

Former manager Bobby Cox has been quoted as saying Jones is in the top three of switch hitters, right up there with Mantle and Eddie Murray, who each hit over 500 home runs. Although Jones currently has 459 career home runs, there’s little doubt in Teixeira’s mind that his former switch-hitting teammate is a Hall of Famer.

“He works hard,” Teixeira said. “He enjoys playing the game. He’s great with the teammates and he’s going to go down as one of the top three switch-hitters of all time.

“If I had a vote I’d give it to him. I’d love to see Chipper go in. He’s got amazing credentials.”

Swisher returns

On Monday, Nick Swisher took some swings and did not feel ready. A day later, his outlook was different and he was in the starting lineup.

“Yesterday, when I went to take my swings, I felt like when I tried to take my normal swings, I couldn’t do it,” Swisher said. “I don’t want to mess with that because I feel like I have a good stroke going right now.”

Swisher tested his quad by doing agility drills, some running in the outfield and participating in the net drill with hitting coach Kevin Long and Cano.

The good stroke that Swisher referenced is his .326 average in 14 games. He is 15-for-46 with two home runs and eight RBI in 14 games to go along with a .415 on-base percentage.


Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter
@LarryFleisher.



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