Even before the night started, the Yankees had a sense of wholeness. Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and closer Andrew Miller were back from the disabled list, restoring the roster almost to full strength. Then, the club got to feel a whole lot better about CC Sabathia, who pitched much better than he has been pitching.
Ultimately, they received their greatest lift from Mark Teixeira, who has been here all along, an All-Star and a complete player. Wednesday night, in a 5-4 victory over the Athletics at Yankee Stadium, he hit two home runs and made a handful of stellar plays at first base. His game qualified as the whole package.
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It was so full that he had multiple options when he was asked what he liked best about the night. "What I enjoyed most was the win. If you have a night like that and you lose, it kind of doesn't mean much," he said. "But hitting two home runs is nice. It's not easy to hit home runs, so getting two against a tough team is fun."
They weren't cheapies and they weren't afterthoughts, either. The first tied the game, welcoming reliever Evan Scribner in the fourth after solid starter Scott Kazmir left because of left triceps tightness. The second -- his 22nd of the season -- also soared over the rightfield fence, also against Scribner (2-2), in the sixth, extending the lead to 4-2 and helping Sabathia (4-8) earn his first win since June 7.
On top of that, Teixeira turned a first-inning line drive into a double play at a time when Sabathia was really struggling. In the seventh, Teixeira reached well over the railing into the Yankees dugout to catch a foul pop. In the eighth, he made a diving stop then a diving tag at first base to close out Dellin Betances' bounce-back perfect inning. Then in the ninth, after Marcus Semien's two-run homer off Miller had cut the lead to one, he made a good stretch to nail the final out. The man has no holes in his glove.
"He's definitely fun to watch over there," said Stephen Drew, who entered as a defensive replacement at second base and wound up hitting a vital home run in the eighth. "It definitely makes the infielders' jobs easier when you know you've got an off-balance throw or whatever and he's there digging it out."
Fact is, his body is as healthy this year as his attitude always is. You won't find Teixeira on the disgruntled list.
"Offensively, you're not going to be able to contribute every night. You're going to have lots of bad nights where you're 0-for-4, like my night last night. It was terrible," he said, referring to a 10-inning loss Monday that ended with him striking out. "You just have to bring your glove every night. So tonight it was one of those things where the bat was there as well, but I think the glove probably saved a few runs."
The Yankees did a little of everything. Sabathia, pitching on nine days rest on a knee that was drained, corrected his early problems. Ellsbury beat out an infield hit. Miller hung on for his first save since June 3.
One guy's "everything" stood out the most, though. "Tremendous," Joe Girardi said of Teixeira. "Two home runs, a tremendous defensive effort on his part. He had a great day.
"He's really, really important to us," the manager said. When he was asked where the first-place club would be without him, Girardi added, "We wouldn't be where we're at."
For one thing, they wouldn't have seen a first baseman Wednesday night register a complete game.