Six Yankees were hit by a pitch in their three-game series against the Red Sox. Tonight’s was different. It was different because of the pitch that came immediately before it, and it was different because of all the pitches Mark Teixeira saw the past five years.
“We’ve had (seven) guys hit in the past four days,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I can’t tell you 100 percent, but if I was to say one was intentional, that was tonight.”
Benches cleared, bullpens poured onto the field and Girardi got into a toe-to-toe shouting match with Indians manager Manny Acta. It was all because Fausto Carmona threw a first-pitch fastball into Teixeira’s upper back.
Curtis Granderson had just homered on the previous pitch. The Yankees were leading by four runs, and Teixeira history against Carmona told him that a first-pitch fastball, up-and-in, was no accident. Teixeira slammed his helmet to the ground, picked himself off the dirt and began shouting.
“I was just telling him that it’s a coincidence that he throws every pitch to me in the last five years down and away,” Teixeira said. “Changeups down and away. He must have really missed his spot on that one.”
Girardi was the first one out of the Yankees dugout, and he got himself between Teixiera and Carmona, who kept shouting at one another as the infield flooded with players. In the heat of the moment, no one was hotter than the usually even-tempered Girardi. He and Acta were face-to-face at one point.
“Manny told my guy to stop,” Girardi said. “Take care of your own guy. I’ll take care of my guy, you take care of your own guy. I have respect for Manny. I actually had a nice exchange with Manny at 3 o’clock today, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some feistiness in me, and when my guys are getting plunked, I’m going to protect them.”
Acta described the incident as “normal baseball stuff” and said the argument was nothing more than each manager defending his player.
“Hit by pitches are a part of the game,” Teixeira said. “I get hit plenty. Guys try to bust me in to keep me off the pitches away sometimes. I got hit in the knee the other day on a cutter that just got away from (Jon) Lester. I’m not going to get upset about that, but when I know it’s a purpose pitch and it’s up near my head, I take exception to that.”
And here’s Teixeira.
• If I had to guess which hit-by-pitch quote will be the most popular, I’d guess this one: “Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if it’s on purpose,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Overall as an offense, (the Red Sox) came in here and pretty much embarrassed us at our home field. Sometimes people are too comfortable… I thought tonight was a good way to answer back and answer the call. The last three games at home were very embarrassing for us, and it’s really not acceptable for us to play that type of baseball.”
• It might be lost because of the fight and because of the Yankees bullpen and because there were so many runs scored, but Ivan Nova was tremendous tonight. It was the second-longest outing of his big league career, and he was outstanding at the end. “I never pitched like that in my life,” he said. “In the seventh inning, I started pitching the way you pitch in the first inning.”
• Nova on his reaction after the benches cleared: “In that moment, the first thing that kept going through my mind was, you’ve got to keep pitching your game. It was too early in the game. I was never thinking, do something bad, but if you think you’ve got to do something to protect teammates or whatever, I was just thinking, keep pitching my game and get deep in the game and then decide after that what you’ve got to do.”
• Jorge Posada singled in his first three at-bats and momentarily raised his batting average higher than Nick Swisher’s. This was his fourth straight multi-hit game, which has raised his average from .169 to .215. Posada is hitting .323 with five doubles in 20 games since May 8.
• Curtis Granderson has homered in back-to-back games and leads the team with 19 homers. He didn’t hit his 19th home run last year until September 18.
• Rodriguez’s 12th homer of the season was an absolute bomb. As the Yankees postgame notes explain: It was to the left of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, clearing the 22-foot roll-up door that sits 25 feet behind the outfield wall. “Unfortunately it only counts as one,” Rodriguez said.
• Fifteen hits were a season-high for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
• Derek Jeter has a six-game hitting streak and is now nine away from No. 3,000.
• After three rookie relievers struggled to hold onto an 11-2 lead after eight innings, Girardi went to Mariano Rivera for the final two outs. “You don’t want to have to,” Girardi said. “But he hasn’t worked in a while so it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
• Kevin Whelan walked six batters in 27 Triple-A innings this season. He walked four of the six batters he faced in his big league debut. When Girardi pulled him in the eighth, Girardi actually got Whelan to laugh before letting him leave the mound. “I said, we’ve all been through that first moment,” Girardi said. “The first time that we’re on the field, the big league field, there’s a lot of nerves there, and you’re never sure how you’re going to react.”
• I only talked to Whelan briefly after the game. He was kind of shaking his head about his eventful debut. He found out around 3:30 that he was being called up, got his wife and kid, drove to New York, got to the park around 6:30 and was in a benches clearing situation by the second inning. Pretty wild day even before that inning.
• The Yankees are going to look for internal options to fill the hole left by Joba Chamberlain, and tonight’s game showed that it might be an occasionally difficult process. “I think you have to have as much patience as you can,” Girardi said. “I think you have to give these guys a chance to grow up in front of you. We all were young. We all had those nerves when we were in situations our first game, when we were put in tough situations later on. We’ve all been through that. You have to show some patience. But in turn, guys have to make pitches as well.”
• Chamberlain on his upcoming surgery: “Obviously the guy doing it has done it a few times. I’m pretty confident that he’ll do a good job, and the rest relies on me and making sure I get back to where I can be and even stronger.”
• Russell Martin plans to hit on Saturday, but he probably won’t play until the next day. “There’s a good chance I’ll be ready to play on Sunday,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Associated Press photos