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Flip flap adds some spice

Girardi not happy with Ortiz bat toss

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By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / June 8, 2011

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NEW YORK — Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t like the Red Sox’ David Ortiz flipping his bat after he homered off Hector Noesi in the fifth inning last night.

And Ortiz didn’t seem to give a flip that Girardi didn’t care for it.

This is good.

With Boston currently dominating the rivalry, beating New York, 6-4, and winning its sixth game in seven tries against the Yankees to pull even with them for first place in the AL East, things need a little spice.

Given how often these teams play, it can get kind of vanilla in stretches.

Girardi at least had the gumption to comment when asked about Ortiz’s bat flip after his majestic two-run homer in the fifth after Noesi had thrown the previous pitch at Ortiz’s legs but missed. “I didn’t care for it,’’ Girardi said.

The manager went on to say, “I don’t know if [Ortiz] was upset that he came in hard on him.’’

Ortiz said he wasn’t upset.

It just so happened that after he was brushed back, he picked himself up and homered.

It looked like, “OK kid, you’re going to come in on me? I’m going to take you deep.’’

Girardi did say “I never had a problem with David. David has always played the game hard. I’m just protecting my young kid.’’

Noesi said he never saw Ortiz flip the bat. And it was more than just a flip — Ortiz turned his body rather dramatically and then got rid of the bat.

“That’s Papi style,’’ kidded Ortiz. “It’s not the first time and it’s not my last one. I’m a home run hitter.

“It’s not like I do it all the time,’’ he added. “What can I tell you? Just another homer for Papi.’’

Ortiz was kidding around before the Girardi questions came. He was asking about how hot it was going to get in New York the next couple of days and said, “The hotter the weather, the hotter Papi gets.’’

Of his blast, he said, “One of the Papi good ones.’’

In the first inning, the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira was hit with an errant Jon Lester cutter on the inside of his right knee. Teixeira appeared to be in severe pain and had to leave the game. He suffered a contusion, X-rays were negative, and he likely will miss tonight’s game, according to Girardi.

Interestingly, the slumping Jorge Posada came on to play first base and stroked three hits, two against Lester, breaking an 0-for-27 streak against lefthanders.

So when Noesi came in tight on Ortiz, it looked as if there was some retaliation going on, but with the Yankees losing at the time and Adrian Gonzalez at first base with one out, there was no way Noesi wanted another runner there.

Ortiz said Lester didn’t mean to hit Teixeira and that Noesi wasn’t trying to hit him.

What Ortiz did was more what he always has done. He feels good after hitting a home run. It was his 14th of the season, and the slugger is feeling like he used to feel. He’s scorching the Yankees this season, hitting .320 with three doubles, two homers, and three RBIs in seven games.

Ortiz is playing his way into a big contract again with the Sox or another team. Hate to say it, but he’d probably look pretty good as the Yankees designated hitter next season, but the Sox likely will try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The extra spice is good because let’s face it, these are the teams that will be fighting each other for the American League East crown, the wild card, and perhaps the pennant. The rivalry works when there’s friction like the old Fisk-Munson days, or when A-Rod and Jason Varitek went at it.

There was about $380 million worth of players battling last night. And for that much money, it’s amazing how many flaws one can see on both teams.

But saying that, these are the best of the best. Tampa Bay is a nice team. Toronto is dangerous. Baltimore seems a year away from contending. Around the AL, Texas may be a very good team when all is said and done. We don’t believe in Cleveland as much as we did. The White Sox are coming on. But basically, it’s your Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees who will be left standing. But we all knew that, didn’t we?

There was a sellout crowd of 48,450 at Yankee Stadium to watch these two giants. The Sox continued to dominate, but we all know what can happen — one team is playing well at the beginning and then the other turns it around.

Neither team seems to have the firepower to run away from the other.

The Yankees showed one of their flaws, starter Freddy Garcia, who lasted 1 2/3 innings and lost his team-high fifth game, allowing four earned runs with three walks. If Posada is beginning to straighten out, that’s probably the best news that could have come out of the game for New York. Derek Jeter collected a pair of hits and is now 12 shy of 3,000, a milestone he and the Yankees would love to put behind them quickly. A-Rod had a rough night, going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

Lester hasn’t pitched like an ace lately for the Sox. He threw his eighth quality start to improve to 8-2 on the season (3.98 ERA), but he got his pitch count high again (112) and lasted only six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, with one walk and five strikeouts. He hit two batters.

Lester was pitching on a week’s rest after throwing 127 pitches May 30 vs. the White Sox in a loss in which he lasted only 5 2/3 innings. This was better, but not deep enough.

And who knows why Girardi responded to the question about Ortiz like he did? Was he trying to start something to get his team going? Before the game he mentioned that the series was important to the Yankees because the Sox had dominated to this point and they’re the team New York is contending with.

Whatever the reason, it looked and felt more like a Yankees-Red Sox game should feel.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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