A smile crept across Mark Teixeira’s face, the years of bitterness directed at an opponent settling into a sly grin. Besting Vicente Padilla felt pretty good.
The origins of such scorn go back seven years, to a season when Teixeira was patrolling first base for Texas and Padilla was a starter for Philadelphia. On June 9, 2005, Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the third. Padilla plunked him in his next at bat. And so began a rocky relationship marked by frequent hit-by-pitches and postgame vitriol.
But Friday’s series opener at Fenway was different. With the Sox leading, 7-6, in the top of the seventh and runners on first and second, manager Bobby Valentine summoned Padilla from the bullpen to face Teixeira, who entered 2 for 10 lifetime against the righthander, the only two hits those homers in 2005. Teixeira was preparing to face the lefty Andrew Miller. Instead, he got satisfaction.
Teixeira unleashed a two-run triple into the center-field triangle, scoring Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez and giving the Yankees an 8-7 lead. It was his first triple since Aug. 3, 2011.
“Game-winning hits always feel good, but that one definitely felt real good,” Teixeira said. “I was making some jokes. I’ve got to get in line. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game.”
Teixeira knew that the situation called for Padilla to attack the zone. Indeed, Padilla, who entered allowing just 5 percent of inherited runners to score, threw all fastballs, the seventh and last one a low offering that Teixeira crushed to Fenway’s deepest part.
“He’s not going to want to mess around this at-bat,” Teixeira said. “Almost every at-bat he tries to throw at your head or tries to throw behind you or something screwy. First and second with the game on the line, he’s not going to do it then.
“No one on, three-run lead, I’m probably thinking he’ll mess around and do what he does. In that situation? I don’t think he’s trying to put any more players on, he’s not trying to let the runners advance. The game’s on the line, and he’s trying to get outs.”
In 17 plate appearances against Padilla, Teixeira has been hit three times, and said Padilla has thrown at his teammates “a lot more than that.”
Padilla, who recorded just one out and got his second blown save of the season, had left the Sox clubhouse by the time reporters arrived. Valentine had little to say about any personal strife between the two players.
“He had gotten him out a lot more than he had gotten hit off him. He’s been pitching so well,” Valentine said. “I didn’t care about the personal stuff. I knew he was 2 for 10 with a couple of home runs. But that wasn’t this year with the way Padilla’s been throwing.”
Teixeira, on the other hand, was far more talkative.
“In the NFL, he’d probably be suspended by Roger Goodell eight games or the whole season,” Teixeira said. “But this is baseball.
“No one else does this. That’s the thing that’s unbelievable to me. No one else in baseball does this. Whether he’s changed his ways or whatever, I hope he does, and that’s great because he’s a great pitcher. The guy’s got really good stuff. It’d be nice just to talk to him as a baseball player, and not just someone who throws at people.”
As far as New York’s 10-8 victory, which Teixeira helped with a 2-for-4 performance, 4 RBIs, and two runs scored?
“Just a big win against an archrival,” Teixeira said.
Teixeira meant the Red Sox. He could easily have been talking about Padilla.