Most of the focus coming into Saturday's Red Sox-Yankees battle centered around Masahiro Tanaka's dominance and his opportunity to do something special against a struggling Boston lineup. For the most part, Tanaka was pretty special, going the distance and allowing only two runs (both solo homers) on seven hits. However, he made one costly mistake in the ninth inning that allowed Boston to get the last laugh, and a few unflattering last words.
After Mike Napoli delivered what would prove to be the game-winning home run in Boston's 2-1 victory, he rounded the bases and jogged to the dugout with some fervor. As is typically the case on Fox national broadcasts, the cameraman followed him to the dugout and picked up clear audio of him yelling "what an idiot" repeatedly, which was clearly directed at Tanaka and his pitch selection.
Here's the audio:
Strong words. Perhaps even ill-advised words. We know the Yankees have or will hear them, and it probably won't sit too well.
Sure, there was a lot of emotion and excitement involved in not only hitting a big home run against the hated rival Yankees, but especially off their newest prized pitcher. Sure, Napoli was probably unaware a camera was following him, but that's something you save for a private conversation in the dugout or clubhouse, not shout loudly and repeatedly so openly, where it can be easily picked up.
Not surprisingly, Napoli attempted to downplay the comments while speaking highly of Tanaka after the game.
Napoli said, "Nothing toward him. I thought he was going to throw me a split in the dirt. He had been getting me out all night on it."— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 29, 2014
Too late? Maybe. We'll see if he has more to say on Sunday.
As for the pitch and the pitch selection by Tanaka, it was questionable at best and mind-boggling if we're being honest. With a 1-2 count, Tanaka shook off catcher Brian McCann twice because he wanted to go fastball away to set Napoli up. The pitch ended up catching way too much plate, allowing Napoli to extend his arms and drive it just over the right field fence.
It was a lapse in judgment and poor execution by Tanaka, who after all is human out there. But to his credit, he didn't hesitate to assign himself the blame after overruling Brian McCann and failing to execute.
Tanaka said McCann called for a splitter, then a slider to Napoli. Shook off both, wanted to throw hard fastball away, missed his spot.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 29, 2014
Tanaka stopped short of calling himself an idiot. He also failed to call Napoli an idiot despite striking him out and making him look foolish with his splitter two times earlier in the game.
Also worth mentioning, Jon Lester was spectacular on Saturday, allowing one unearned run on five hits over eight innings. He struck out six and earned his ninth victory.
And here's an interesting tidbit on Napoli's homer.
Mike Napoli's game-winning home run off Masahiro Tanaka was calculated at 355 feet, and would only have been a homer at Yankee Stadium.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 29, 2014
In any other ballpark, Tanaka would have been "lucky" as opposed to an "idiot." Of course, Yankee Stadium is his home ballpark, so he'll have to learn how to pitch around its disadvantages or risk further insults in the future.
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