- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- As if the Yankees don't have enough incentive against the Red Sox, Mark Teixeira played the personal vendetta card Friday night against Sox reliever Vicente Padilla, punishing him for perceived sins of the past with a game-turning, two-run triple in the Bombers' 10-8 win over the Sox in Fenway Park.
Maybe Adrian Gonzalez needs to work up a good hate against Yankees closer Rafael Soriano, who snuffed out Boston's last chance at one more comeback by inducing the Sox first baseman to roll out with the tying runs on base in the eighth inning.
With Dustin Pedroia going on the disabled list Friday and by his own estimate out for a "few weeks," and with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury still polishing up their games on rehab assignments, it's more incumbent than ever for Gonzalez to rediscover the form that made him Boston's delayed answer to the Yankees signing away Teixeira before the 2009 season.
Gonzalez brought a 15-game hitting streak, his longest of the season, into Friday night's game, but it has been on the soft side, with just two doubles and a home run. His six home runs rank last among all regular American League first basemen.
The Yankees handled Gonzalez with relative ease last season, holding him to a .183 batting average (13-for-71) with a couple of home runs and 12 RBIs. Gonzalez had a couple of hits against the Bombers back in April, including an RBI double, and strung together good at-bats in each of his first four trips Friday night. He helped the Sox climb back from a 5-0 first-inning deficit by doubling in a run and scoring in a five-run first, then singled and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth, when the Sox took a 7-6 lead.
He also lined out to center in the second and lined a seventh-inning single after Cody Ross's home run had cut the Yankees' lead to 10-8. But he was erased at third when Derek Jeter made the night's biggest defensive play, cutting off a ball hit by Mike Aviles that was headed for the hole.
Still, he had one more chance in the eighth after a two-out single by David Ortiz and a walk to Ross. Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought in Soriano, who in eight previous at-bats had not allowed Gonzalez a hit, with four strikeouts.
This time, however, he fell behind Gonzalez, three balls and a strike, and a crowd of 38,066 that had witnessed a pingpong match all night rose in anticipation of Gonzalez providing the master stroke the moment demanded. Bobby Valentine had inserted a pinch-runner, Brent Lillibridge, at first, in expectation that one swing would tie the game.
"I thought it was going to happen," Valentine said. "Worked the count to 3-1, had a couple of ducks on the pond, yeah, I thought we were going to at least tie it up."
Soriano had other ideas. Gonzalez's swing produced a roller to Teixeira, who made the play himself to end the inning. The crowd, which booed Josh Beckett when he gave up five runs to the game's first eight batters, swallowed its disappointment with Gonzalez.
"He threw a front-door sinker," Gonzalez said. "He made a good pitch. I put a good swing on it, but it had good sink and I topped it. I wish I'd gotten a little more underneath it, and it would have been a double."
The gloating, meanwhile, was left for Teixeira, who has had no use for Vicente Padilla since the Sox reliever, then with the Phillies, drilled him after Teixeira had homered off him in consecutive at-bats. Becoming teammates, as they were with the Rangers in 2006 and 2007, not only did nothing to mend the relationship, Teixeira claimed Padilla's head-hunting ways led other teams to take aim at Tex in retaliation. Padilla was let go by the Rangers in an acrimonious parting, and Teixeira said Padilla has been throwing at him ever since, hitting him twice in 2009.
"The guy throws at people, fact of the matter," Teixeira said. "I'm not saying anything that is news. It is what it is. I've always been someone who wants to play the game the right way. You play hard, but you don't play cheap. I've always lived that way, too.
"Some guys decide to take matters into their own hands. In the NFL, he would probably be suspended by Roger Goodell eight games or a whole season. This is baseball."
Valentine was asked whether he knew about Padilla's history with Teixeira, who expressed surprise that the Sox manager didn't leave lefty Andrew Miller in to face him after striking out Robinson Cano following a walk and an infield hit.
"I didn't care about personal stuff," Valentine said. "I knew he was 2-for-10 with a couple of home runs. That was the pitcher, the way Padilla has been throwing."
Until that moment, Padilla had inherited 19 runners upon entering games and only one had scored. That number grew to three, and when Raul Ibanez singled home Teixeira, his string of 13 consecutive scoreless appearances also was history.
And the Yankees left with an 8½-game lead over the Sox, who are now back to being just a game over .500 after their fourth straight loss and sixth in their past eight games.
How big does 8½ look?
"It's still July," Gonzalez said.