David Wells, the ex-New York Yankees pitcher turned television analyst, had a message for his former team before its 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday afternoon:
Quit complaining about getting hit so much and do something about it. Take on the mentality of manager Joe Girardi and “grow some.”
The Yankees have been hit eight times in their last five games -- including five times during a three-game sweep at the hands of their arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
“Right now,” Wells told ESPN NewYork.com’s Johnette Howard inside the Yankees’ clubhouse on Saturday morning. “Boston is in the Yankees’ heads.”
“CC Sabathia stepped up and did what he had to do,” Wells said, referring to how Sabathia hit Yankees-killer David Ortiz in the leg in game three of the Red Sox series Thursday night, but even then only after shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez had been plunked by right-hander Josh Beckett in the first three innings of that game. “But when you have a team in your head like Boston is in the Yankees’ heads, that’s not good. And you can’t let just let them stay there. If the Yankees do that, they’re dead – well, not dead, because they can always come back, I guess. But you have to do something about it.”
Boston Red Sox
The Yankees didn’t. Instead, they fell to 1-8 against the Red Sox this season, and lost their first six home games to Boston for the first time since 1912.
“Boston punched us in the mouth,” Rodriguez said.
Wells told Howard he “wasn’t advocating a beanball war,” but said the Red Sox looked too comfortable, something Girardi readily admitted when asked specifically about Ortiz, who went 4-for-12 (.333) with two home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored during the series despite being hit for the first time in 161 career games against the Yankees.
“Nobody wants to hurt anybody,” Wells said. “I’m just talking about pitching inside, not letting a team get comfortable against you. The Red Sox are too comfortable here. David Ortiz was getting too comfortable. That’s not what you want.”
Wells told Howard he honestly didn’t think Ortiz’s bat flip after hitting a home run in game one of the series was “that bad.”
“When things are going that bad like they were going for the Yankees in that Boston series, sometimes you almost have to invent a reason to do something about it, you know?” Wells said. “If I’m on the mound there, you better believe I’d do something. When a game or a series is going that bad, you don’t just go 2-0 on a guy and lay another pitch in there.
“You have to let them know, ‘Hey? Guess what, man? I’m out here too.”
Aside from Sabathia, Girardi hasn’t certainly made public his comments that he’s “tired” of seeing his players hit and if it continues, he’s going to “protect his own.”
New York Yankees
On Friday night, Girardi got into a heated exchange with Indians manager Manny Acta and the two had to be separated after both benches cleared after first baseman Mark Teixeira was drilled by a fastball from right-hander Fausto Carmona during the second inning follow a mammoth solo home run by center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, right-hander Mitch Talbot was ejected for beaming Rodriguez in the sixth inning.
"I'm not sure if it was intentional, but I know it hurt like hell," said Rodriguez. "It's just the form of getting hit, it seems a little fishy. Obviously guys are going deep and pitchers are shaking two or three times to the fastball in and we're getting smoked.
"The bottom line is we got embarrassed here against Boston and got punched in the mouth.”
Still, Wells wonders when “enough is enough.”
“Grow some,” Wells said.