06/03/09 12:26 AM ET
Teixeira fires up Yanks in rout of Rangers
Second time hit by pitch, hard slide spark seven-run inning
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
There indeed were sparks in New York's resounding 12-3 series-opening win in front of a crowd of 43,948 at Yankee Stadium, but they weren't caused only by the Yankees' 13-hit attack, as Rangers starter Vicente Padilla hit former teammate Mark Teixeira twice to load the bases, firing up the home base as well as the first baseman and his team.
Following the second plunking in the fourth inning -- a one-out, up-and-in pitch that hit Teixeira's shoulder -- the noticeably upset Yankees slugger took first base after yelling out some choice words toward the mound.
"There's no doubt [it was intentional]," Teixeira said, citing his previous success against Padilla, which includes homers in his first two at-bats followed by several hit-by-pitches.
"There's really no reason for it in baseball. If you can't get a guy out, don't hit him. If you don't want to pitch to a guy, put four fingers out there and walk him," Teixeira said. "And unfortunately, when I was a teammate [of Padilla's for two seasons in Texas], it happened a lot when he would hit guys. And the [Nos.] 3, 4 hitter, those are the guys that get hit for retaliation."
Following the game, Padilla denied any ill-will toward Teixeira and told reporters that he wouldn't have wanted to risk putting runners on base in what was then a close game.
"It's stupid if [Teixeira] thinks it was an intentional pitch," Padilla said.
Regardless of motive, an irate Teixeira got his chance to answer back, albeit in a cleaner, more productive manner. Although Teixeira said he wasn't looking for retaliation, he admitted the pivotal play that followed was a good coincidence. Teixeira's hard slide into second base took out shortstop Elvis Andrus and allowed Alex Rodriguez to avoid an inning-ending double play.
Teixeira's slide sparked the Bombers, as Derek Jeter crossed the plate for what was then the go-ahead run -- as well as the 1,500th of his career -- and Robinson Cano followed with an RBI single to chase Padilla from the game. Hideki Matsui blasted a three-run homer off reliever Derek Holland to complete a seven-run frame and an offensive onslaught that read off like the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
"That's playing the game hard right there," starter A.J. Burnett said of Teixeira's slide, which ignited the Yankees' dugout. "Any runner would have done the same thing, but I think he had a little [extra intensity] built up in him. It was perfect hustle like that, or as Alex [Rodriguez] likes to say, 'passion.' That's just playing with passion right there."
Burnett displayed his passion when he came dangerously close to plunking Nelson Cruz and was issued a warning by home-plate umpire Doug Eddings in the following frame.
Burnett said the pitch was an inside fastball that missed location and was dismissive of the situation.
"Warnings are warnings -- it doesn't bother me," Burnett said. "You still got to go about your business."
That's exactly what the right-hander did. After an early mistake to Cruz -- who launched a three-run homer in the third inning -- was eradicated by the Yankees' offense, Burnett cruised through seven innings and didn't allow another run.
It was Burnett's first win in six tries wearing a home Yankees uniform. The right-hander had carved out some impressive road wins, including eight innings of shutout ball against the Rangers last Wednesday. But the red-hot Yankees -- who entered Tuesday third in the Majors in total runs scored -- had gone cold at home behind Burnett, averaging just 1.2 runs while the right-hander was on the mound.
"His fastball [was] overpowering," catcher Jorge Posada said of Burnett, who finished with eight strikeouts. "I think we threw a lot of good pitches, he got ahead of a lot of hitters and his breaking ball got better once the game got along."
Posada's wide throw trying to catch Andrus stealing in the fourth inning snapped the Yankees' Major League record of 18 error-free games, dating back to May 13 at Toronto. But the backstop made up for the faux pas with a three-run shot off reliever Warner Madrigal to extend the Yankees' lead in the sixth.
New York's season-high 12 runs came courtesy of 13 hits and 11 RBIs, including a 7-for-15 combined night from Cano, Posada and Matsui. Seven of New York's starting nine had a hit, although Teixeira's 0-for-2 night was hardly quiet.
"I think the slide at second base tells it all," Posada said. " I think he wanted to break up the double play, [and] that kept us in the inning. So going in there like that, everything was clean about it."
Manager Joe Girardi, who went out to check on Teixeira and diffuse what could have been a volatile situation after the hit-by-pitch, agreed.
"It's baseball, I love it," Girardi said of Teixeira's slide. "It's what we've been taught for a long time."
As for intent, Girardi didn't claim to know the intent of anyone on Tuesday night, be it Padilla, Teixeira or Burnett.
"It's always hard to tell intent -- he threw one up and in," Girardi said of Padilla. "That's what you got concerned about when balls are that high. But I mean, who's to say what the intent was?"
But when the dust settled on Tuesday night, one thing was clear: the Yankees had a series-opening victory and the American League's best record at 31-21.
"We did the talking with our bats," Teixeira said. "And that's how you win games."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.