- Last Updated: 8:27 AM, July 7, 2012
- Posted: 2:14 AM, July 7, 2012
Boston — Within The Rivalry, the most heated rivalry belongs to Mark Teixeira vs. Vicente Padilla.
It is a Hatfield and McCoy baseball thing that dates to when they were competitors, the worst of teammates and now foes again. Teixeira normally has the non-confrontational persona of a diplomat. But he makes no concealment of his distaste for Padilla.
“I have to get in line,” Teixeira said of the number of people who dislike Padilla. “He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game.”
Which is why, in the words of hitting coach Kevin Long, Teixeira had extra incentive when he came to bat with two on, one out and the Yankees down 7-6 in the seventh inning. There was the little matter of the game in which Hiroki Kuroda instantly gave away a 5-0 lead built in the first against Josh Beckett and also forfeited a 6-5 lead in the second.
The Yanks don’t want to give the reeling Red Sox any momentum. And Teixeira certainly did not want to lose both a game and his personal feud. That is why his two-run triple to the deepest part of center at Fenway Park meant so much to the team and the first baseman as the Yanks went ahead, finally for good, in a 10-8 triumph.
“I know he was pumped,” Long said.
With first and second and no out in the seventh, Andrew Miller blew away Robinson Cano with a 96-mph fastball and Teixeira was fixated on how uncomfortable a right-handed at-bat he was going to have against the 6-foot-10 lefty. So he missed that the guy who makes him most uncomfortable of all was warming.
“I was very surprised they brought in Padilla,” Teixeira said.
But with Padilla entering, the hostile history between the duo was suddenly resuscitated.
On June 9, 2005, Teixeira homered in the first two at-bats he ever had against Padilla with the Rangers. The next time up Padilla, a noted headhunter, plunked Teixeira.
As quirky fate would have it, the two became teammates the following season and would be until Teixeira was traded midway through the 2007 campaign. Padilla had continued to throw at opponents and the retaliation came against the Rangers’ best hitter. That would be Teixeira. He finally tried to appeal to Padilla to stop, but “he couldn’t care less. He couldn’t care about his teammates.”
Teixeira said when they became opponents again, Padilla would buzz him pretty much every at-bat and the matter crested on June 2, 2009, Teixeira’s first season with the Yankees. Padilla hit Teixeira twice. The normally serene first baseman was clearly infuriated on the field and afterward attacked the integrity of Padilla.
But in a way Padilla was winning the battles within this war. After those two homers in 2005, Teixeira was 0-for-10 against Padilla with three walks and three hit by pitches.
“I didn’t care about the personal stuff,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “I knew he was 2-for-10 with a couple of home runs. But that wasn’t this year with the way Padilla’s been throwing.”
The one edge Teixeira had was knowing Padilla would not risk a hit by pitch with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. That brought a sense of security within the batter’s box.
“I knew he wouldn’t mess around and do what he does,” Teixeira said.
The count ran full and Padilla tried to win with a 94-mph heater, but in a V for vendetta and victory moment he smoked the ball well over the head of center fielder Ryan Kalish for his third and fourth RBI of this game. The Yankees led and, as Joe Girardi said, “It is frustrating as a hitter [to get plunked by the same guy regularly]. So when you get a chance to get revenge it feels great.”
The blast put the Yanks ahead and Girardi aggressively used his bullpen to protect that edge. Rafael Soriano recorded his first save of more than three outs since Aug. 29, 2007, when he and Teixeira were Braves teammates. The Yanks knocked Boston further down, to 42-41 and to 8 1/2 games out of first.
It was a big win within The Rivalry as Teixeira produced a win in his rivalry.
“There’s only one guy in baseball who does what he does,” Teixeira said. “No one else in baseball does this.”
Last night, Teixeira finally hit Padilla back.