- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- Mark Teixeira is the Jack Armstrong of baseball players. He is the All-American boy, so he even seethes with a smile.
But even he couldn't hide a little extra glee about delivering the final blow Friday night off maybe the most hated pitcher in baseball, Vicente Padilla, in the latest Boston marathon between the Yankees and Red Sox.
Teixeira and Padilla have a seven-year feud going -- a feud that began with two Teixeira homers, and entering Friday's game included eight outs, four walks, three hit by pitches, and, from Teixeira's point of view, a whole lot of head-hunting.
"The guy throws at people, fact of the matter," Teixeira said after his two-run seventh-inning triple gave the Yankees the lead in their 10-8 win over the Red Sox. "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."
In the seventh, Bobby Valentine surprised Teixeira by lifting Andrew Miller and his 97-mph heat and putting in Padilla.
"I didn't care about the personal stuff," Valentine said.
For Teixeira, it was a more comfortable at-bat because there were two men on and the Red Sox were up one, so Padilla had no choice.
"He is not going to mess around in this at-bat," Teixeira said. "Almost every at-bat, he tries to throw at your head or throw behind you or something screwy. With (men on) first and second, the game on the line, he is not going to do it then. I actually can dig in and look for a good pitch to hit."
The count went to 3-2 before Padilla went into his delivery for the payoff pitch. Teixeira stepped out of the box, in a little bit of gamesmanship. Padilla had to start over. When he did, he fired an inside and low 94-mph fastball. Teixeira swung and connected, sending a drive into Fenway's right-center field nook in front of the 420-foot sign. The two-run three-bagger gave Teixeira four RBIs on the night, and a hot cup of redemption.
"There is only one guy in baseball," Teixeira said of Padilla. "No one else does this. That is the thing that is unbelievable to me. No one else in baseball does this. So whether he has changed his ways or whatever, I hope he does. That's great because he is a good pitcher. He has really good stuff. It would be nice to talk to him as a baseball player, not just as someone who throws at people."
Besides the fact that Teixeira loved beating Padilla, he also enjoyed the fact that he could get this long weekend off to a good start for the Yankees. On Saturday, the Yankees and Red Sox will play a day-night doubleheader before ending the first half of the season on "Sunday Night Baseball."
So the Yankees rejoiced over Hiroki Kuroda saving Joe Girardi from using his long man by working into the sixth after giving up five runs in the first. They celebrated Derek Jeter's nice play in the hole for the second out in the seventh that prevented the bases from being loaded.
"He changed the complexion of the game," Girardi said.
Girardi managed Friday's game like it had more importance than your average game against a team that entered seven-and-a-half lengths back in the standings. He went to eighth-inning man David Robertson in the seventh, and then turned to Rafael Soriano for a four-out save.
But it was Teixeira who was the star of stars. He laughed the laugh of a man who just took care of a bully -- a bully who has been tormenting him for seven years.
"I was making some jokes, I have to get in line," Teixeira said. "He doesn't have a lot of friends in the game."
Teixeira even had a stolen base to go along with his triple on Friday.
"I don't know if that has ever happened," Teixeira said. "We'll have to look at the Elias Sports Bureau for that one."
That has never happened. Teixeira also probably has never exacted such sweet revenge. The All-American boy wouldn't say if he dislikes Padilla more than anyone in the game. But he didn't have to.
17mAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com