Mark Teixeira sent a message to the Boston Red Sox by pounding a two-run triple into the triangle section of Fenway Park to give the New York Yankees an 8-7 seventh-inning lead on Friday night— a one-run cushion they would not relinquish on their way to a 10-8 win— but had a stronger message to the noted headhunter Vicente Padilla who gave it up.
"I had to get in line," said the normally diplomatic Teixeira. "He doesn't have a lot of friends in the game."
Padilla is a relief pitcher known for drilling opposing batters and Vice and Tex— former Texas Rangers teammates— may now be the closest thing baseball has to Tom and Katie — minus the burly Scientology bodyguards.
"The guy throws at people," said Teixeira— who has been plunked by the fastballer three times in previous meetings. "Fact of the matter, I'm not saying anything that's news. It is what it is. I've always been someone that wants to play the game the right way. You play hard, but you don't play cheap."
Tex didn't stop there.
"In the NFL, he would probably be suspended by Roger Goodell for eight games or a whole season but this is baseball."
Coming from most any other player these words would be considered common trash talk but from the Yankees first baseman— who avoids controversy like he dodges Padilla's bean balls— it is totally out of character.
"Almost every at-bat, he tries to throw at your head, does a throw behind you or something screwy," Teixeira said. "With first and second and the game on the line, he's not going to do it then, so I could actually dig in and look for a good pitch to hit."
Teixeira knew his at-bat was more than a personal feud with Padilla— after the Yankees had blown a 5-0 first-inning advantage and a 6-5 lead later — but was "surprised" when he had to bat against his old nemesis— a righthander who threw seven Teixeira seven straight fastballs.
Tex worked the count full before hitting the ball into no-man's land in center field. Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez scored as Teixeira rounded the bases for his first triple of the year.
"Game-winning hits always feel good," said Teixeira. "But that one definitely felt real good."