Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has started just one game since fouling a ball off his shin two weeks ago and manager Joe Girardi revealed today that there’s no timetable for his return because the team now thinks the injury is more serious than initially believed.
Girardi told reporters that Teixeira will be on crutches for at least “a few days” and it’s certainly starting to sound like the Yankees fear he may be sidelined for a significant period of time. Girardi expressed optimism that he’ll play again this season, saying it’s a “deep bone bruise” but no fracture was found.
Teixeira has had a tremendous bounceback season, staying healthy enough to play 109 of the Yankees’ first 117 games while hitting .255 with 31 homers and a .906 OPS. He made his first All-Star team since 2009, which is also the last time he topped a .900 OPS.
Rookie Greg Bird has been the primary first baseman in Teixeira’s absence, hitting .250 with two homers and a .721 OPS through 16 games at age 22. Alex Rodriguez seeing time at first base is another option for Girardi, who could then use Carlos Beltran at designated hitter and free up an outfield spot.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.