The New York Yankees needed something to shake them out of the doldrums, and their hottest player getting hit by a pitch in the second inning of their game last night against the Cleveland Indians may have done it. Both benches cleared as the two teams argued about whether the beaning was intentional. The Yankees went on to punish the Indians, 11-7.
The jawing in the infield after the batsman was hit was led by the Yankees by manager Joe Girardi. Whether he felt he needed to stick up for his player, Mark Teixeira, or whether he was trying to rouse some emotion from this team--which was swept by arch-rivals the Boston Red Sox this week--is an open question.
What's not questionable is Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona's lack of control over his pitches last night. He walked three batters in the first inning, throwing 14 balls in his first 18 pitches. After coaxing outs from Francisco Cervelli and Derek Jeter in the second inning, Carmona threw a sinker that went right over the middle of the plate, and Curtis Granderson crushed it to right field for a home run.
The very next pitch, the first pitch to Teixeira, was a 94-mph sinker that was way high and inside. Teixeira crouched to get out of the way of the throw and was plunked on his back behind his shoulder. The Yanks first baseman immediately stood up and started yelling at Carmona. Girardi emerged from the dugout and yelled, red-faced and angrily, at Indians manager Manny Acta. No punches were thrown and home-plate umpire Dale Scott issued warnings to both teams as play resumed.
Teixeira, who is known to crowd the plate and has been hit by pitches seven times this season, had 13 HBPs last year and 12 HBPs in 2009. Carmona is notorious for his wild throws and the New York Post reports that he is eighth in HBPs among active pitchers with 49. He has hit six batters this season. Because it came immediately after a hard home run, the beaning looked intentional.
Teixeira was knocked out of Tuesday's game against Boston by an errant fastball to the inside of his right knee. Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett hit three Yankees on Thursday night. The Yanks were sick of getting hit.
In other words, this was an accident waiting to happen, and it did happen. Teixeira was touchy about inside pitches, Carmona had little control over his throws, the Yankees were frustrated from HBPs and hard losses, and Girardi needed to light a fire under the Bronx Bombers' bums. The result: A harmless scrum in the infield, and a New York victory.