A few hours after Mark Teixeira vowed to “enjoy every last at-bat,” the rest of the Yankees seemed dead set on doing the exact same thing. The plate sure was a happy place for them against Indians pitching on a night that showed the Yankees have not given up on batting even if they have given up on winning the pennant.
They pounded 16 hits, including a grand slam by Starlin Castro, a solo shot by Aaron Hicks, a triple by Brett Gardner and a 4-for-5 effort by Jacoby Ellsbury in a 13-7 victory over the Indians on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
The occasion for Teixeira (2-for-4) was his announcement yesterday afternoon that he will retire at the end of the season. The motivation for his teammates was the chance to keep jobs and to face the pitching staff of a stagnant first-place club. The Indians have a worse record since the All-Star break than the Yankees do (9-10 vs. 11-10), and the Yankees wanted to show they have some life in their bats.
“I think that’s the team that we are. If we can be together like that, we can score a lot of runs. Not every time is it going to be good, but we’ve got a really good team to try to do that,” said Castro, who batted in the third after starter Josh Tomlin (11-4) intentionally walked Chase Headley. Castro took the pitch to the opposite field and watched as it cleared the rightfield fence.
“I hit it pretty good. I thought it was a homer right away, but even if he caught it, I thought it would be an RBI,” Castro said of his first career grand slam, which made the score 6-0.
The Indians never really got close after that — what with their pitchers walking eight batters, four in the sixth inning — and Michael Pineda (6-10) had a mostly easy ride to a win.
What helped Pineda get through the early innings was the arm of catcher Gary Sanchez, a key part of the Yankees youth push who had been the DH the previous two nights.
Joe Girardi acknowledged that catching is the hardest spot to master in the big leagues because it involves learning and handling the pitching staff, blocking and framing pitches, and throwing out runners. “And he’s got to hit,” he said of the rookie, who doubled in the fifth.
It seemed the Indians tried to test him, running in each of the first two innings. Sanchez retired both. “That arm, man. That is a sick arm,” Teixeira said.
Teixeira set the tone for the day when he took weight off his own shoulders by announcing his retirement. Then he went 2-for-4.
“We really want to see these young guys play and see what they have. I think the future is very bright for this team,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to win games. We’ve got some veterans that can still get the job done and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to try to win as many games as possible. Tonight you saw it; up and down the lineup, we had contributions. We could have a run where we score some runs and have some good games.”
Notes & quotes: Justus Sheffield, one of the prospects acquired at the trading deadline, pitched for the Tampa Yankees and had 11 strikeouts in six innings against Daytona on Friday night. He allowed one run, two hits and a walk . . . Greg Bird, a potential replacement for Teixeira, is taking batting practice and should be ready for the Arizona Fall League, Girardi said. He could have big competition in spring training from Tyler Austin. “You look at his numbers in Triple-A and they’re off the charts,” Girardi said . . . Indians manager Terry Francona on Clint Frazier and the three other minor-leaguers his team traded to the Yankees for Andrew Miller: “We gave up four really good prospects . . . It will be hard for me to root against them unless they’re playing against us because you get to know them. You get pretty fond of them.”