An already heated rivalry between the Angels and New York Yankees grew more feisty Friday night, with bodies colliding into each other, a pair of fastballs thrown to the solar plexus of players from both teams, and one Angel winding up in the hospital.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira delivered a knockout blow in the third inning, but it was a Kendry Morales haymaker in the eighth, a two-run homer to right field off Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, that won it for the Angels, 6-4.
Morales had three hits and scored two runs, Bobby Abreu had two doubles and two runs, and Kevin Jepsen and Fernando Rodney threw scoreless innings of relief, but if the Angels were to award a game ball Friday night, it would go to catcher Bobby Wilson.
That is, if Wilson was conscious enough to receive it.
The Angels opened the season with three catchers on their roster. They were down to one after Teixeira's bone-crushing slide into the plate sent Wilson, who was making his first career start, to the hospital.
Teixeira, who reached base when he was hit by an Ervin Santana fastball, was on second when Robinson Cano singled to right. Teixeira came home, and Abreu's throw from right field took a bad hop toward the third-base side of the plate.
That took Wilson's momentum right into Teixeira, who lowered his left shoulder and bore so violently into Wilson's sternum that the collision — between the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Teixeira and the 6-foot, 220-pound Wilson — could be heard in the press box.
Wilson, who never gained possession of the ball, was sent sprawling back toward the left-side batter's box.
Teixeira scored the third run of the inning for a 3-1 Yankees lead, and Wilson was carried off the field, diagnosed with a left-ankle strain and a concussion and taken to the Chapman Medical Center for a CT scan and X-rays.
"It was a clean play, no doubt about it," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, the former Dodgers catcher who was on the receiving end of similar hits. "Mark is trying to score. The ball beat him. Bobby is trying to get the ball and get a tag down. Mark just reacted. It was clean."
Santana wasn't so sure.
"I don't know, because he can score easily," the Angels pitcher said. "Maybe he's trying to hit us or something because I just hit him. I didn't mean to hit him."
Teixeira said as soon as Wilson moved toward him, he thought the catcher had the ball and was blocking the plate.
"I feel terrible. It makes me sick," Teixeira said. "You never want to hurt a guyI was going to slide, but as soon as I saw him learning toward me, I thought, ‘OK, he's got the ball, I've got to knock it loose.' Every time I'm in that position I try to protect myself by lowering my shoulder."
Wilson was replaced by Mike Napoli.
Napoli was hit by an A.J. Burnett pitch in the fourth, and Santana hit Nick Swisher with a pitch in the sixth, "but I didn't see anything there," Scioscia said. "They pitch inside aggressively, so do we."