There had been a feeling among the Yankees that they were approaching wholeness, what with centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and closer Andrew Miller returning yesterday and bringing the roster almost back to full strength. Then the team got to feel a whole lot better about CC Sabathia, who pitched much better than he had been pitching.
Ultimately, they received the largest lift from Mark Teixeira, who has been here all along and has been a complete player. He continued his All-Star season with two home runs and several stellar plays at first base in a 5-4 victory over the A's at Yankee Stadium.
Teixeira tied the score with his first homer and expanded the lead with his second (and 22nd of the season), helping Sabathia (4-8) secure his first win since June 7. It was Teixeira's second multiple-homer game of the season, and it added further proof why he was chosen for the All-Star Game. His game rarely shows holes.
Of course, no Yankees game would be whole without big help from the bullpen. This time, Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth and Miller hung on, despite allowing a two-run home run to Marcus Semien in the ninth, making the Yankees glad that Stephen Drew had homered in the eighth.
The Yankees had done fairly well while Ellsbury and Miller were on the disabled list. Their bigger challenge was keeping Sabathia-watchers off the disgruntled list.
He had not been doing his share, certainly not pitching as well as Adam Warren, who was dispatched to the bullpen while Sabathia remained in the rotation. That was partly because there is nothing else to do with Sabathia. He is an established, respected veteran starter and his team intends to keep him that way.
All they could do was help him try to improve. Toward that end, they gave him a rest. Wednesday night was his first appearance since June 29. "What you hope is that it allows him to recharge a little bit. Physically, as a player, it allows you to catch up a little bit," Joe Girardi said before the game. "He feels good and we'll see how it plays out."
At first, it had the look of a long night. Just about every A's batter in the first two innings hit the ball hard. Sabathia was lucky the deficit was only 2-0 (one line drive became a double play and Billy Butler was trapped off third base on a soft grounder).
But Sabathia did get better after that. And his counterpart, Scott Kazmir, had a very short night. Kazmir was forced out after three solid innings (one unearned run on two hits) with what the team called "left triceps tightness." Even Scribner, his replacement, got Yankees bats loose. Teixeira welcomed him with a tying home run to right. The Yankees added a run in the fourth on Jose Pirela's sacrifice fly.
Because of that, Sabathia was able to walk off the mound -- to polite applause -- with one out and one on in the sixth, leading 3-2.
Teixeira stretched the advantage to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth with his second home run off Scribner. It was quite a night all the way around for Teixeira, who had been named to the American League All-Star team Monday. He earned that honor for his power and his glove -- he was the one who converted a first-inning liner into a double play. He also made a neat reach into the Yankees dugout to catch a foul pop in the seventh. In the eighth, he made a diving stab to stop the ball and another dive to tag first base.
It was all his version of a complete game.