Mark Teixeira’s season officially began last Friday against the Red Sox. As he went 1-for-9 in the weekend series, he often spoke about getting into a rhythm after missing three months with a right wrist injury.
After a pair of home-run swings on consecutive nights, Teixeira seems headed in the right direction.
Teixeira hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning and the Yankees didn't need much more in a 4-3 victory over the Indians.
“A big home run and that’s two nights in a row,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I talked about he’s an RBI machine and that’s what he is.”
Teixeira now has four hits in 15 at-bats and three have gone to left field, including his home run off ex-Met prospect Scott Kazmir Tuesday night. Teixeira made it 4-0 by sending a 3-1 changeup over the left-field wall inside the foul pole.
Teixeira’s home run Tuesday came from the right side of the plate. It also came in the same inning as Monday when he hit a first-pitch sinker from Justin Masterson for a grand slam from the left side of the plate.
“Seeing the power is important for me because I want to commit to my swing,” Teixeira said. “The first couple of games back, you kind of feel for it, you don’t want to let it go and then that one hurt.
“I haven’t had that yet, so [I’m] just committing to the swing and hitting the home run left-handed and right-handed just kind of shows, ‘Ok, let it go,’ and that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve never tried to just punch up to the gaps or anything and it’s definitely a good sign for the wrists.”
Teixeira homered in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 9-10, 2012 and in consecutive home games for the first time since July 25-26, 2011 against Seattle.
“I felt good in batting practice for a while so that was a good sign,” Teixeira said. “My batting practices when I was down in Tampa were pretty good, so I had a feeling that it was going to be OK. But game power is a little different. When a guy is throwing 95 [mph], it’s different than a coach lobbing it up to you.”
It seemed like the Yankees would not need the four runs, as David Phelps rebounded from last Wednesday’s nightmare start against the Mets. After allowing a five-run first inning, throwing 31 pitches and getting one out, Phelps was much improved Tuesday.
Phelps allowed an infield single to Drew Stubbs with one out in the third inning and that was it. However, he was unable to go beyond the sixth because he issued four walks and threw 102 pitches.
“I’d prefer not to battle but it’s something that I’ve had to be real accustomed to in my career,” Phelps said. “I’m not going to be a guy that’s going to throw fastballs by people. I got faith in my stuff that I can throw a strike.”
Phelps only had one source of significant trouble, which came in the fifth with walks to Mark Reynolds and Jason Giambi to lead off the inning. Following a mound visit by pitching coach Larry Rothchild and catcher Chris Stewart, Phelps fanned Mike Avilles looking on his fastball, got Stubbs to pop up to Teixeira and retired Michael Bourn on a shallow fly ball to center field.
“Even before Larry got out there, Stewy came out there and said think about throwing it in the middle of the plate,” Phelps said. “He focused kind of staying on the white of the plate instead of on the edges.”
Teixeira’s home run proved more critical when Joba Chamberlain struggled in the seventh and gave up a three-run home run to Stubbs with two outs in the seventh. Boone Logan struck out Bourn to end the inning before David Robertson and Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless inning apiece.
Robertson’s inning was not easy by any means. He put two on with none out, setting up an encounter with former teammate Nick Swisher. Swisher, however, lined a 1-1 pitch to second baseman Jayson Nix that turned into a 4-4-6 double play and Robertson easily finished the inning.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.