Mark Teixeira is hitting .120/.241/.240 with just one extra base hit in 29 PA this post-season. That assuredly is not a good line, particularly from a team's number three hitter. Unfortunately, Teixeira has begun this post-season in a slump much like the one he had to begin the regular season, except thus far he hasn't had the walk rate or the power to supplement his poor batting average as he did early the season.
Partly because of the game winning home run Teixeira hit in Game Two of the ALDS and partly because everything had been all puppy dogs and roses for the Yankees up until yesterday, Teixeira hasn't yet come under any A-Rod style media fire. Yet rest assured, should his struggles continue or should the Yankees have the audacity to lose another game, Teix is going to start feeling some heat.
Yet, home run aside, Teixeira has been a valuable player for the Yankees this post-season. Through Games One and Two of the ALCS, he made several good plays around first base, coaxing outs from errant throws out of the cold hands of Yankee infielders. In Game Two of the ALDS Teixeira was David Robertson's biggest ally in pitching out of a bases loaded no out jam in the eleventh inning, spearing a screaming lining drive off the bat of Delmon Young for the first out and then fielding a hot shot grounder and firing home for the second.
Yesterday, Teixeira went 0 for 3 with 2 BBs, but he made several key plays in the field. In the eighth, Bobby Abreu led off with a double to the center field fence. Abreu spent two and a half seasons with the Yankees. He knows the strength of Melky Cabrera's arm. He knows Derek Jeter's knack for being in the right spot and making head's up plays. He assuredly saw Jeter's role in getting big base running outs against Carlos Gomez and Nick Punto in the ALDS. What Abreu didn't know was that with both Jeter and Cano in short center field for relay throws, Mark Teixeira was trailing him up the base line. When Abreu took an overly aggressive turn towards third base, Teix called for the ball. Jeter adjusted as he returned to the ground from his leap, and he and Teix had Abreu dead to rights as he retreated to second base. The play gets lost in the shuffle of what came after it and the Angels' eventual victory, but this was a huge huge play at the time.
Later in the inning, Teix snagged an errant throw from A-Rod as it tailed towards the home plate side of the first baseline, and managed to tag Vladimir Guerrero on his way by to record the innings final out. In the ninth, Teix snagged a hot shot liner off the bat of Kendry Morales for the second out.
In the tenth, as the Yankees faced a huge jam with the winning run on third and no one out, Teixeira once again played a key role in defusing the situation. With the infield drawn in, Teix made a diving stop on a hot shot grounder from Chone Figgins, looked the runner back to third, and tagged first for the inning's first out. A batter later he snagged a hard grounder from Torii Hunter and forced the runner at home for the second out. Finally, he snagged Vlad Guerrero's grounder in the hole and beat him to the bag for the final out.
First baseman are paid to hit. Number three hitters are expected to hit. And eventually the Yankees are going to need some offense from Teixeira this month. But, even with his current struggles at the plate Mark Teixeira is making some big contributions to the Yankees.