On May 6, the New York Yankees dropped their third straight game at home, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays just a night after the Red Sox completed a two-game sweep in the Bronx.
"We just found another way to lose tonight," Mark Teixeira told the New York Daily News following another disappointing loss. "We've got to win that game."
The Yankees managed to come back against the struggling Rays before falling apart late, as their record dipped below .500 to 13-14.
"You believe if you keep having opportunities it's going to turn around," Joe Girardi told the Daily News. "Over the last two weeks, we've had a lot of tough losses. We've got to find a way to bounce back."
The Yankees would finish their four-game homestand at 0-4, departing for a six-game road trip two games under .500. But two night's after a frustrated Teixeira told the media the Yankees seemed to create new ways to lose ball games, Alex Rodriguez returned to the cleanup spot in the order, and the club hasn't looked back since.
With a 21-8 (.727) record since A-Rod returned from hip surgery, the Yankees have climbed out of the basement in the AL East to the top of the division with a one-game lead over the Red Sox heading into the three-game series at Fenway Park. The team has been led by the two-headed monster in the middle of the order, the dynamic duo of Teixeira and Rodriguez that Peter Gammons referred to as the the new David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
"Now Rodriguez and Teixeira are what David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were to Boston from 2003 to 2007," Gammons wrote on his blog on ESPN.com.
Since A-Rod's insertion in the lineup, Teixeira is hitting .363 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs, positioning himself as an early season contender for the AL MVP. Between the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium and the cavernous gap of left-center, the switch-hitting first baseman is enjoying the protection provided by No. 13.
"I think people take Alex for granted, because he puts up the numbers every single year," Teixeira told the New York Post. "But if you take that out of a lineup, there's a huge hole. We have a great team no matter who is on the field, but when you put Alex back out there, it's even better."
Once teammates in Texas, Teixeira and Rodriguez have reunited to form the most expensive and most formidable 1-2 punch at the No. 3 and 4 spots in any lineup in all of Major League Baseball.
"You can't replace Alex, and now that we have him back, we feel the Yankees are together," Teixeira told the Post.
?I think we make a good team,? Rodriguez told the New York Times. ?I think he helps me as much as I help him.?
The tandem has placed the Bronx Bombers back on top of the baseball world after a brief hiatus. And the chemistry and camaraderie of the clubhouse that has been talked about in great depth has extended itself to the heart of the order.
"Winning is the best medicine for anything," Teixeira told the Post. "Alex and I have really grown in our friendship as teammates, it always seems that when Melky [Cabrera] or someone gets the big hit, Alex and I are next to each other giving each other high fives and that builds a great bond."
"There's a special feeling with this team," Rodriguez told the Post. "I love being in there and contributing, that's what it's all about."
But if anyone can tell Teixeira what happens when the winning stops in New York, it's A-Rod, who has seen the ALCS just once since arriving in the Boogie Down in 2004.
Regular season success and personal accolades hold little value in the city that never sleeps, where one-at bat in a big spot can overshadow what you did in 500-plus at-bats over the course of the season. The pressure is always on in the Big Apple and even more so against the Red Sox.
"We're ready to go out and play the team that's had our number the first five games this season," Teixeira told the New York Daily News. "We're excited to go to Boston, because it's always a great series and always fun, but we don't have to prove anything to ourselves. We just have to go out and play good baseball."
Good baseball has been synonymous with the Yankees since they last saw the Red Sox on May 5 and 6 at the Stadium, and for the first time this season the Red Sox will face the heart of the order that has the baseball world buzzing about the Bronx Bombers.
After showering Teixeira with boos and hatred for selecting New York over Boston just days before Christmas, the Fenway faithful will get their first chance to greet their most-hated opponent when A-Rod steps to the plate in the series opener.
"I've always said, I hope to get booed in the next eight to 10 years of my career. That means I'm doing well," Teixeira told Newsday. "If people start forgetting who you are, then they don't boo you anymore."
No one in Boston will be forgetting who Teixeira is anytime soon — or A-Rod for that matter. And with the way the two are producing, no one will forget who hits third and who hits fourth in the order for the Yankees these days.