It seems strange, of course, but going into Sunday's eighth inning one could have said with some certainty that Mark Teixeira would have been better off facing Felix Hernandez than Fernando Rodney.
King Felix is one of the best pitchers in the sport and Rodney decidedly is not.
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But the Yankees' first baseman has always seen Hernandez well, entering the game 20-for-66 (.303) against him in his career with six home runs. One of those was a grand slam June 1 in the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Mariners.
Meanwhile, Teixeira entered the game 0-for-9 with two strikeouts in his career against Rodney, who came on with one out in the eighth inning Sunday, and a 5.45 ERA, and retired the first batter he faced, Alex Rodriguez. Teixeira was 2-for-3 to that point in the game and Rodney got ahead 1-and-2 before delivering a 98-mph fastball the first baseman belted to right for his 23rd homer of the season that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
"Just put a good swing on it," Teixeira said. "He threw the pitch before [a 98-mph fastball for a swinging strike] right by me and I just knew I had to get ready a little bit earlier. The second one I was ready for."
The hit gave Teixeira, who participated in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, his AL-leading 63rd RBI.
"Tex had a big day," Joe Girardi said. "He's a real dangerous hitter and he's been that way all year for us."
A day after hitting two home runs against Michael Pineda, Robinson Cano went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts . . . Rodriguez went 1-for-4, his first-inning single accounting for his 3,023rd career hit, which tied him with Lou Brock for 23rd on baseball's all-time list . . . According to Elias, the Yankees improved to 6-1 this season in games in which a former Cy Young Award winner (Hernandez on Sunday) started against them.