First-Place Yankees Greet First Day of Summer

CC Sabathia pitches the Yankees into first place

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Jun 21, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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First-Place Yankees Greet First Day of Summer

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Mark Teixeira really responds to clubhouse visits from Lady Gaga.

It's not a natural pairing, to be sure, but Teixeira hit big home runs on both Saturday and Sunday to help the Yankees win the series from the Mets and pass the Rays to take sole possession of first place. Hopefully he won't take any fashion cues from the pop star, the world isn't ready to find out that Teixeira wears a bra and fishnets under his uniform, but perhaps her own streak of big hits rubbed off on Tex. 

Lady Gaga, as you can tell from her ubiquity, is taking advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. Teixeira has done that from time to time this season but he hasn't been as consistent a hitmaker as the Yankees' unlikely lucky charm. He may be getting into a groove -- sorry to mix pop star metaphors -- as he's got a 1010 OPS over the last 13 games but we're still cautious about proclaiming him totally alive.

Not so with CC Sabathia. A long stretch where the big fella only looked good against the Orioles came to an end against the Phillies and he looked even better in Sunday's 4-0 win. Eight shutout innings are always tasty, he'd likely have come out for the ninth if not for a rain delay, but it was the fact that he needed just 100 pitches to get there that was really impressive. That's efficient strike throwing, the kind of thing that CC was struggling with earlier this season.

Maybe he just needed summer to get here. It arrives on Monday, of course, and the Yankees will greet the change in seasons from a solo first place perch in the AL East. They aren't clear of the fray by any means, the Red Sox joined the Rays a game behind the Yanks with a Sunday night win, but it is a pretty impressive position for the team to find themselves in given the fact that, like Teixeira, they haven't quite found their groove yet.

They're 2-0 since Gaga invaded the clubhouse and they finally moved to the top of the charts, so perhaps the lady isn't such a tramp after all. The team seems to realize her power to inspire. They lifted a briefly rumored ban on her from the Stadium and the clubhouse which isn't a bad idea. Given the way everything she touches seems to turn to gold, they might need her to bust a slump before the year is out.

Let's just hope that she doesn't hold a grudge if Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York" winds up as the feel-good hit of the summer?

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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