Yankees manager Joe Girardi was red in the face with anger, nose-to-nose in a screaming match with Cleveland counterpart Manny Acta after Mark Teixeira was whacked with a fastball.
Tired of getting hit by pitches – and losing to rival Boston – the fired-up Yankees took out their frustration on the skidding Cleveland Indians.
Alex Rodriguez hit a colossal home run, Curtis Granderson also connected and New York got back on track with an 11-7 victory Friday night in a game that quickly grew testy.
”Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if it’s on purpose,” Rodriguez said. ”There’s no question, it was very important for us to bounce back and play our type of baseball.”
Girardi and Acta got into a heated argument when both benches and bullpens emptied after Teixeira was hit behind the shoulder by a second-inning pitch from struggling Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.
No punches were thrown and there appeared to be little pushing and shoving – if any. Plate umpire Dale Scott issued warnings to both teams, and there was no further trouble.
”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,” said Girardi, who gestured angrily at Carmona on the field. ”I told him I thought he did it on purpose and I didn’t like it.”
Ivan Nova (5-4) pitched seven sharp innings for New York, and Derek Jeter had one hit to move within nine of 3,000. Jorge Posada, breaking out of a season-long slump, added three hits and an RBI on a night when his figurine was handed out to fans.
One of them sat on a ledge near the Yankees dugout as he singled home a run to cap a three-run first. Posada has four straight multihit games, raising average from .169 to .215.
”Just waiting for the ball longer and hitting it to all fields,” he said. ”Really seeing it better.”
Rebounding from a three-game sweep by the Red Sox, their second at Yankee Stadium in a month, New York sent a wild Carmona (3-8) to his fifth straight loss and finished with 15 hits. The Yankees had dropped 10 of 14 at home.
”Forget who we’re playing, you can’t have teams be so comfortable against us,” Rodriguez said. ”I thought tonight was a good way to answer back and answer the call because the last three games at home was very embarrassing for us and it’s really not acceptable for us to play that type of baseball.”
Robinson Cano had three hits and an RBI, and Teixeira stroked a three-run double that made it 10-2 in the seventh. Rodriguez followed with an RBI double.
In the fourth, the three-time MVP hit his 625th career homer into the second row of bleacher seats in left-center, where an excited fan caught it on the fly. The ball sailed some 450 feet, beyond a loading-bay ramp that sits between Monument Park and the visitors’ bullpen.
Yankees staff members could not remember a home run ever reaching that area at the new stadium, which opened in 2009.
”Unfortunately, it only counts for one,” Rodriguez said.
Carlos Santana homered for the Indians, barely clinging to first place in the AL Central. Coming off a 1-6 homestand, they have lost 12 of 16 overall.
The opener of a four-game series was the first meeting this season between the teams. It didn’t take long for both sides to get heated.
One pitch after Granderson hit his team-high 19th homer into the second deck in right to give New York a 4-0 lead, Carmona threw a pitch that was headed straight for Teixeira’s upper back.
Teixeira ducked down and was hit squarely behind the right shoulder as he crumbled to the dirt. The slugger slammed down his helmet, then yelled and gestured at Carmona as he got up.
”It’s just disappointing when you have a guy who gives up a long home run and is getting hit around a little bit and decides to throw one close to your head,” Teixeira said. ”Anytime it’s a purpose pitch up near my head, near my neck, I don’t like that. … You want to send a message, just throw the ball low.”
Carmona declined to speak with reporters after the game.
The right-hander, who threw 14 of his first 18 pitches for balls and walked three in a 40-pitch first inning, motioned back following Teixeira’s response.
”I haven’t seen him so divorced from the strike zone as he was today in the two years I’ve been here,” Acta said. ”His loading the bases in the first inning did him in.”
Girardi was the first Yankee out of the dugout, rushing onto the field to usher Teixeira toward first base and away from a potential fight. Soon the benches and bullpens had emptied as players streamed onto the field.
Both sides milled close together between the mound and first base. Acta moved into the fray and was trying to assure Girardi that Carmona did not hit Teixeira intentionally. But the managers quickly got into a heated, face-to-face argument as an umpire attempted to keep them apart, and Acta could be seen cursing at Girardi on a television replay.
”Normal baseball stuff. Heat of the moment. He’s defending his man and I’m defending my guy,” Acta said. ”My goodness, the guy couldn’t throw 50 percent of his pitches for strikes. The other pitches, he just didn’t hit anybody, but he couldn’t throw strikes. I didn’t think there was anything to it.”
The banged-up Yankees are feeling a little sensitive these days about inside pitches.
Teixeira left Tuesday night’s game against Boston writhing in pain after getting hit on the right kneecap by a first-inning pitch from Jon Lester, and Red Sox ace Josh Beckett plunked three New York stars Thursday night: Jeter, Rodriguez and Granderson.
”It was a great offensive performance. Nova was incredible. But we just took out a little bit of frustration from the last three games tonight and hopefully we can continue to do that,” Teixeira said.
Five walks and four hits allowed by inexperienced relievers in New York’s injury-depleted bullpen prompted Girardi to bring in Mariano Rivera for the final two outs. He gave up a two-run single to Matt LaPorta, then closed it out.
Notes: Indians 2B Orlando Cabrera went 0 for 4 and remains one hit shy of 2,000. He was ejected by Scott for arguing a called third strike in the eighth. … Granderson is 17 for 39 (.436) with three homers against Carmona.