NEW YORK — Mike Napoli simply was caught up in the moment.
Napoli could be heard yelling, “what an idiot,” on FOX’s broadcast Saturday after returning to the Red Sox’s dugout following his go-ahead home run off Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka in the ninth inning of Boston’s 2-1 win. The comment — made in reference to Tanaka’s decision to throw a two-strike fastball — generated plenty of Internet buzz, but neither Red Sox manager John Farrell nor Yankees skipper Joe Girardi wanted to make a big deal out of the situation before Sunday’s series finale at Yankee Stadium.
“The one thing we don’t ever want our players to be is non-emotional,” Farrell said. “I’m aware of the comment made last night. I didn’t hear it at the time. But I know this, we’ve got the utmost respect for Tanaka and I know Mike Napoli does. So if his comment was based on an emotion within that moment, that wasn’t directed to be derogatory towards him. It was a reaction.”
Tanaka shook off catcher Brian McCann twice before delivering the 1-2 heater to Napoli. Tanaka said after the game that McCann called for a splitter and a slider, both of which represented more sensible options given Napoli’s previous at-bats and the fact that the struggling Stephen Drew waited on deck. The right-hander remained steadfast on throwing a fastball, though, and Napoli, who admitted he was surprised, deposited it into the first row of seats in right field.
The mistake was costly and the hit was huge, especially when you consider the Red Sox’s recent offensive struggles and that Jon Lester matched Tanaka pitch-for-pitch in Saturday’s tight contest. Emotions obviously grabbed a hold of Napoli, and therefore, there wasn’t much backlash from the Yankees’ side of the fence.
“I haven’t seen anything in Mike Napoli that he is a guy that shows people up or he is a guy that degrades people,” Girardi said Sunday. “I don’t make too much of it. It is a heat of the moment thing.”