Fastballs key to Teixeira breakout

John Munson/US Presswire

Mark Teixeira has continued his trend of starting off slowly at the plate since joining the Yankees. He's hitting only .222 heading into tonight's game.The Minnesota Twins begin a four-game set in the Bronx tonight (ESPN, 7 ET) against the New York Yankees, a team they have struggled against lately. Since 2002, the Yankees are 51-18 against the Twins in the regular season, and in postseason play, New York has won nine straight and 12 of the 14 games the teams have played since 2002.

Carl Pavano Since 2005

Pitching Matchup

Carl Pavano signed a four-year, $39.95 million contract with the Yankees before the 2005 season but his tenure there was marred by injury and ineffectiveness. As a Yankee, Pavano made only 26 starts and missed the entire 2006 season. However, since leaving the Bronx, he has made 100 starts, including being named the Twins Opening Day starter the last two seasons.

This is only Pavano’s second start in New York since leaving the Yankees after the 2008 season. On April 19, 2009 - then with Cleveland – Pavano went six innings, allowing four hits, one run, one walk and four strikeouts as he took a no-decision in New York’s 7-3 win.

For the Yankees, Freddy Garcia will take the mound for his second start of the season. In his first start, Garcia threw five wild pitches against the Baltimore Orioles, but came out with a no-decision as New York rallied for a 5-4 win. Garcia is 10-7 with a 4.04 in 22 career starts against the Twins, but is 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA in four starts since joining the Yankees.

Mark Teixeira BA
Since Joining Yankees

Player to Watch

Mark Teixeira is off to another slow start this season, but that is nothing new for him since joining the Yankees. The bad news is that after rebounding well in 2009, his performance the rest of the season has gotten worse.

His trouble so far this season has been from the left side of the plate, particularly against fastballs. Pitchers work away from Teixeira with fastballs on both sides of the plate, but he only makes them pay while hitting right-handed. He’s 1-for-12 against righties and 3-for-8 against lefties.

Stat of the Game

Alex Rodriguez is tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth all-time with 630 home runs. Let’s take a quick look at some similarities between the two players.

• A-Rod has hit 112 of his 630 HR in the first inning; Griffey has hit 111.

• 330 of A-Rod’s home runs have come with the bases empty, compared to 337 of Junior’s.

• A-Rod has hit the first pitch for a home run 108 times, while Griffey has connected on the first pitch 114 times.

John Fisher contributed to this post