Mark Teixeira’s first at-bat Thursday resulted in a jam shot that squeaked into left field because of the sharp shift to the right employed by the Houston Astros. The accidental single led to shocked applause from the sparse Yankee Stadium crowd, which had witnessed the rarity of Teixeira’s not pulling the ball for a base hit.
In the seventh inning, Teixeira again uncharacteristically hit the ball to the opposite field, this time lining a three-run homer over the left-field wall to break a 5-5 tie, and the New York Yankees held on for an 8-5 win.
“I got lucky there; I’ll take those,” Teixeira said of his single. Referring to his home run, he added: “I don’t hit many that way; I haven’t hit many in my entire career. When I do, it feels good. I’m a pull hitter, especially left-handed.”
Teixeira and the other Yankees batters helped save Nathan Eovaldi after he allowed five runs over the first four innings.
Eovaldi was making his first appearance since right elbow inflammation prematurely ended his 2015 season. On Thursday, he took little time in re-establishing his trademark fastball. Eovaldi’s first pitch registered at 100 mph on the scoreboard, and he needed only six pitches to throw a scoreless first inning.
In the days leading to Eovaldi’s first start since Sept. 5, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his splitter was as valuable as his fastball. Its late movement made it “a swing-and-miss pitch when he needs a strikeout,” Girardi said.
In the second, Eovaldi struck out the first two batters with the splitter, but after Luis Valbuena doubled, Tyler White bashed a splitter over the center-field wall for his first career home run. Preston Tucker followed by lifting a splitter that was left over the middle of the plate for a deep homer to right field.
“My splitter today, I felt like it was just inconsistent,” Eovaldi said. “I threw good ones and I threw bad ones, and my bad ones were more middle.”
The volatility of Eovaldi’s splitter was emblematic of his pitching style. He had a career-high 14 wins last season, but he also had a 4.20 ERA. Eovaldi was aided for much of last season by outstanding offense: His run-support average of 7.17 per game in 2015 was the second highest in the major leagues.
In the fourth, Brian McCann, who was awarded his 2015 Silver Slugger Award before the game, belted a solo home run to right field.