NEW YORK – Mark Teixeira was hitting .198 on May 8 with five homers and 15 RBI. Since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup that night, Teixeira has raised his average to .239, doubled his home run total and increased his RBI to 29.
“Pitchers are just making a few more mistakes,” Teixeira said. “It puts a lot of pressure on them when Alex is in the lineup and, you know, a pitcher is not going to want to get into deep counts and maybe walk me with a guy like A-Rod behind me.”
Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate, combining with Rodriguez for back-to-back drives in a six-run first inning against ailing Glen Perkins, and New York beat the Minnesota Twins, 7-6, on a chilly Monday night to complete a four-game sweep.
After stringing together three straight walk-off wins for the first time since 1972, the Yankees overcame a 2-0 first-inning deficit and hung on to extend their winning streak to a season-high six. New York improved to 23-3 at home against the Twins during the regular season since the start of 2002.
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“I can’t wait to get out of here,” Minnesota’s Denard Span said. “Not just the stadium, but the whole city.”
Andy Pettitte (4-1) won consecutive starts for the first time this year, allowing four runs and 12 hits in 62/3 innings. Jose Veras escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when Carlos Gomez flied out and Phil Coke got four outs for his first career save, finishing as Mariano Rivera was given a night off.
“It’s hard,” Coke said. “I’m completely and totally gassed right now.”
Span homered off Edwar Ramirez in the eighth and Coke faced Justin Morneau with a runner on. Morneau had four hits against Pettitte and had homered off Coke on a slider Saturday but struck out against him this time on fastballs away.
Coke then allowed an RBI grounder in the ninth to Michael Cuddyer before retiring Mike Redmond on a game-ending grounder.
“As they start chipping away, you start thinking about, oh boy, here we go again. We’re going to have another one of these nights,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Coke was so overwhelmed he made a point of finding Rivera in the back of the clubhouse to tell him of his newfound appreciation for the closer’s role.