Mark Teixeira had experienced a bit of everything in his initial season in New York, from a horrific early-season slump to some torrid stretches of hitting and a Gold Glove-caliber season in the field.
But missing from his resume was his involvement in a sticky Yankees tradition - receiving a pie in the face from A.J. Burnett, the spoils awarded to those providing walk-off victories in 2009.
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Teixeira dramatically became involved Friday night, lasering a 2-and-1 pitch by Jose Mijares on a line off the top of the leftfield wall and into the seats for a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the crowd into hysterics and Burnett back into the clubhouse to load up the whipped cream.
The shot gave the Yankees a wild 4-3 victory over the Twins and a 2-0 lead in their American League Division Series.
"A.J. told me, 'I finally got you,' " Teixeira said with a smile. "So if I'm going to get one this season, I'm glad I waited to the postseason. It was fun."
Teixeira said that at contact, he thought the ball was going to stay in the park. "I really thought it was going to be a double because I hit it with so much topspin," he said. "I hit it hard, but there was so much topspin I thought there was no chance it was going to get out."
It was the Yankees' fourth walk-off victory over the Twins this season and ninth win in nine games. "It's really disappointing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've been walked off enough here."
But the reaction to Teixeira's walk-off was only the second loudest by the Yankee Stadium crowd of 50,006. The first was in the bottom of the ninth with the Yankees trailing 3-1. Alex Rodriguez, whose two-out RBI single had tied the score in the sixth, crushed Joe Nathan's 3-and-1 pitch into the centerfield side of the Yankees' bullpen for a tying two-run homer.
"You grind out an at-bat against one of the best closers in the game," A-Rod said, describing his battle against Nathan. "And you get to a favorable count and you get a pitch in your wheelhouse and obviously you don't want to miss it."
Teixeira had led off the ninth with a single. Two innings later, he and A-Rod were co-heroes.
Rodriguez, who is 4-for-8 with five RBIs - including three two-out RBI singles - in the series, seems on his way to burying his recent history of postseason failures. "I've said all along, I think he's in a great place this year, I really do," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been huge in the playoffs so far for us."
The Twins left 17 runners on base to the Yankees' five. They had 12 hits, seven walks and two hit batsmen to the Yankees' seven hits and three walks.
That the Yankees were in position to break a tie in the bottom of the 11th was a story in itself.
After the Yankees put runners on first and third with one out in the 10th but couldn't score - Johnny Damon lined into a double play - Damaso Marte started the top of the 11th by allowing consecutive singles to Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel.
Earlier in his at-bat, Mauer lined a drive down the leftfield line that hit Melky Cabrera's glove in fair territory, landed fair, bounced into the stands and incorrectly was ruled a foul ball by umpire Phil Cuzzi, a call that crew chief Tim Tschida later called "clearly an incorrect decision."
David Robertson replaced Marte and gave up a single to Michael Cuddyer to load the bases. With the infield pulled in, Delmon Young lined out to Teixeira and Carlos Gomez followed with a grounder that Teixeira threw home for a forceout. Robertson escaped the inning by inducing a flyout to center by Brendan Harris, who earlier had an RBI triplein the sixth and a key single during the Twins' two-run eighth against Phil Hughes.
"A big sigh of relief," Robertson said of his thoughts walking off the mound after getting out of the jam.
Then Teixeira lined Mijares' fourth pitch of the bottom of the 11th for the winning homer.
"Seems like there's been a lot of magic so far this year here," said Derek Jeter, who doubled and scored in the sixth. "Hopefully, there'll be a few more of those moments."