NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Masahiro Tanaka knew exactly how he wanted to handle Mike Napoli. The New York Yankees ace was throwing a fastball, no matter what catcher Brian McCann called for.
So after twice shaking off McCann, Tanaka stuck with his plan — and threw precisely the kind of pitch the Boston slugger hoped to see.
Napoli stung Tanaka by hitting a solo home run with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting Jon Lester and the Red Sox over the Yankees 2-1 Saturday night. The Red Sox won again on Sunday to take the series.
“It was the worst thing I could’ve possibly done,” Tanaka said through a translator.
Napoli hadn’t had much success earlier in the taut pitchers’ duel, striking out in his previous two at-bats. He was down 1-2 in the count before lining an opposite-field drive into the first row of the seats in right.
“He had me where he wanted me,” Napoli said.
Tanaka wanted to take a different approach than McCann.
“He asked for a splitter and for a slider, and I shook off both of them,” Tanaka said.
Tanaka said he intended to throw a fastball out of the strike zone to set up a breaking ball. Instead, Napoli hit it out of the park.
“What an idiot!” Napoli was heard exclaiming on Fox television microphones as he high-fived teammates in the dugout.
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Napoli later said he didn’t mean any disrespect, adding he was “surprised” Tanaka didn’t throw his tremendous splitter.
Napoli, who also homered off Tanaka at Fenway Park in late April, raised his right arm as he rounded first base and headed toward a dugout celebration.
Tanaka, the top winner in the majors and the AL ERA leader (tied with Felix Hernandez), turned to watch the ball sail, twisting his body when it cleared the wall.
Napoli’s third home run in five games, and 10th shot overall, flew far enough reach the short porch.
Tanaka (11-3) allowed seven hits in a complete game, striking out eight and walking one. He dropped consecutive starts for the first time in the majors.
Ross homered in his second straight game, launching a drive far over the left-field fence in the third. Tanaka muttered to himself as Ross rounded the bases.
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