SAN DIEGO — Mark Teixeira felt the outburst coming, even if few others did, and it allowed him to join an exclusive club.
The switch-hitting first baseman, in a 6-for-26 skid entering the day and with three strikeouts in his first three at-bats Sunday, homered twice from the left side in his final two times up in the Yankees’ 6-3 victory over the Padres. He has 401 career homers and is the fifth switch hitter to reach the 400 plateau.
“It’s very special, being a part of the [five] switch hitters to do it,” Teixeira said. “It’s a very nice honor.”
Teixeira’s shot in the eighth, No. 400 — a towering fly ball that just made it over the wall — gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead. His ninth-inning blast was a no-doubter. He punctuated it with a bat flip, a rare show of on-field emotion from Teixeira. “The 400th, I didn’t know if it was going out, I hit it so high,” he said. “That one [No. 401] I could enjoy a little bit.”
Teixeira, who got both balls back as fans threw them back on the field, enjoyed it even more as his father, John, was in attendance. Father and son shared a hug after the game outside the clubhouse.
Mickey Mantle is first among switch hitters in homers with 536, followed by Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (468), Carlos Beltran (411) and Teixeira.
“It’s really cool and I feel connected to every one of the switch hitters,” he said. “Mickey Mantle played for the Yankees and Eddie Murray’s the reason I’m a switch hitter; I watched him growing up in Baltimore. I got to play with Chipper Jones a year in Atlanta, and now I’m playing here with Los [Beltran], and we do it in the same year. It’s really cool. I’ll always be able to take that with me.”
He added, “My lefthanded swing is the best it’s felt all season. I still have some work to do righthanded.”
New hot hand?
Aaron Hicks entered the game with a .194/.257/.297 slash line but went 3-for-3 with a double, his second three-hit game of the season. “Maybe he found something,” Joe Girardi said.
Speaking of heat
Didi Gregorius (2-for-5 with a home run) is hitting .361 (26-for-72) with five homers, 17 RBIs and 16 runs in his last 18 games.