SEATTLE — Boston manager Bobby Valentine insisted he wasn’t serious Wednesday when he threatened to punch a talk-show host in the mouth.
Hours later, his Red Sox put up little fight at the plate.
Valentine said he made it clear he was kidding when he made the comment during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley.
“Didn’t I go, ‘Ha, ha?’” the embattled Valentine asked before his fourth-place team lost 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners. “I don’t think physical violence is necessary for 60-year-old people.”
Ordway, sighting a newspaper report that Valentine arrived later than normal for a game last week in Oakland, asked if the manager had “checked out” on the season.
Valentine responded on the air:
“What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha,” he said. “How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. Why would somebody even, that’s stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone’s here, watching me go out at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room — how could someone in real life say that?”
Meeting later with reporters in Seattle before the game, Valentine acknowledged he took offense to Ordway’s question and explained that he arrived at the Coliseum in Oakland later than usual — but still 3 hours before the game — because he had picked up his son from the airport and got stuck in traffic.
“If anyone in this room or any other room I’ve been in in my life wants to question my integrity, I will ask someone to referee that situation,” he said.
Valentine added that if a writer “thought that was important and wanted to write seriously about it, they could have asked what the situation was and I would have been happy to tell them. No one asked the reasons.”
He went on to describe them.
Valentine said he picked up his son from the San Francisco airport in the morning for his first visit on the road during “this lousy season.” The plane was late, then he had to return to his San Francisco hotel to pick up his game information before driving over the Bay Bridge to the Coliseum.
“That was a mistake,” Valentine said. “There was traffic around the hotel and an accident on the freeway. I got there a little later than normal, not late. My workday starts at 4:30 p.m., in my opinion. I got to the stadium at 4:04 p.m.”
He said he had called in that night’s lineup at 2 p.m. and had checked with the trainer on the condition of injured players.
“To see my son for a couple more hours,” he said, “is more than worth the trade-off of sitting around in my underwear in the clubhouse for two hours.
“Just ask me the question. Don’t think everyone in the room is smart enough to figure out what I meant. That’s not my fault.”
Valentine said he told his coaches he would be a little late, and he called in to say he was delayed in traffic on his way to “the stupid Oakland Coliseum.”
“For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any,” he said.
During the radio interview, Valentine went on to say that his first season as Red Sox manager has been “miserable.”
Asked to clarify later, he said: “The last two weeks have been very trying. Lots of obstacles in my way and I thought I’ve jumped them, and sometimes you get knocked down by them.
“It’s turned out to be not what I expected. It’s been a little misery, yeah,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s 24/7, but I would think after a loss I’m miserable. … It’s been adventurous, challenging.”
Valentine signed a two-year deal last winter and has said he wants to return in 2013. Red Sox management has maintained that no decision will be made until after the season is over.
The last few weeks have not gone well. Boston went 1-8 on a brutal road trip for the club’s worst West Coast swing since a 1-8 debacle in September 1989.
“This was not a good road trip, obviously,” Valentine said. “One of the worst I’ve ever experienced.”
The Red Sox are 10-24 since Aug. 1.
“I’d like us to play together and show that we’ve got a lot of pride,” Valentine said. “I think we do and I think we’ll grind it out, be a spoiler along the way. That would be fun, too.”
Kevin Millwood (5-12) allowed four hits and one run over six innings for Seattle in his first victory since July 28. The right-hander had gone 1-8 since May 21.
Dustin Ackley hit a two-run single and Tom Wilhelmsen worked the ninth for his 24th save in 27 opportunities.
Aaron Cook (3-9) went six innings for the Red Sox, giving up two runs and seven hits. He is 1-8 since tossing a two-hit shutout against Seattle on June 29.
“It’s time to go home,” Cook said. “It was a bad, bad road trip for us. We have an off day tomorrow. Everybody needs to relax.”
ORIOLES 10, YANKEES 6: Mark Reynolds hit two of Baltimore’s season-high six home runs — three in a wild eighth inning — and the Orioles climbed back into a first-place tie with the Yankees in the AL East by defeating New York 10-6 Thursday night before a euphoric sellout crowd at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Adam Jones’ leadoff homer in the eighth off David Robertson (1-6) put Baltimore ahead 7-6 after the Yankees rallied from a five-run deficit in the top half. Matt Wieters followed with a single and Reynolds hit a drive into the left-field seats. Chris Davis then slammed the first pitch from Derek Lowe over the right-field wall.
Wieters and Robert Andino also connected for the Orioles, who have won 10 of 13 — a run that includes three of four over New York.
After trailing the Yankees by 10 games on July 18, the surging Orioles pulled even Tuesday, then dropped a game back on Wednesday before taking the opener of this important four-game series.
Reynolds, who also went deep in the sixth, has homered in three straight games and has eight long balls in his last seven, including two in each of the three wins against New York. With Reynolds leading the way, the Orioles hit six home runs in a game for the first time since Aug. 28, 2007, against Tampa Bay.
Baltimore has played several significant games in September in recent years, but this is the first time since 1997 that the Orioles have been in the hunt for a playoff berth. The fans reacted accordingly, cheering from the first pitch to the very end.
The Yankees always attract huge crowds, but this time an estimated 90 percent of those in attendance were cheering for the home team. The full house and the boisterous orange-clad fans conjured memories of a time long ago, when Baltimore made two straight playoff appearances in 1996-97 prior to a run of 14 consecutive losing seasons.
New York trailed 6-1 in the eighth before mounting a comeback fueled by four walks. After Alex Rodriguez hit an RBI double and Curtis Granderson singled in a run, the Yankees put runners on second and third with two outs. The fans rose to their feet in anticipation after Pedro Strop prepared to throw a 1-2 pitch to Russell Martin, but Strop ultimately issued a walk to load the bases for pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson, who drew a four-pitch walk to make it 6-4.
Ichiro Suzuki followed with his third hit, a two-run single, before Darren O’Day (7-1) got the final out.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel gave up one run and six hits in five-plus innings in his first outing since going on the disabled list in mid-July. The right-hander took a line drive by Robinson Cano off his elbow in the fourth, but stayed in the game.
After Hammel warmed up the rowdy fans with a 1-2-3 first, three straight singles against David Phelps in the bottom half produced a run before Wieters hit an opposite-field, three-run drive to left for a 4-0 lead. It was his 19th home run of the season and the first since he connected off Phelps on Saturday.
New York got a run in the fourth on Cano’s hit off Hammel’s arm and an RBI single by Granderson. In the Baltimore half, Andino hit his career-high sixth home run to make it 5-1.
Reynolds made it 6-1 with a solo shot off Joba Chamberlain.
NOTES: On the 17th anniversary of the day Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s mark of consecutive games played, the Orioles unveiled a statue of the Iron Man in the picnic area beyond the center field wall. Ripken is the fifth of Baltimore’s six Hall of Fame stars to be so honored this season; the last will be Brooks Robinson. … Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) jogged lightly in the outfield at Camden Yards before the game and said he’s close to returning to the lineup. .. Cano played 2B for the first time since suffering left hip soreness on Monday. … NY manager Joe Girardi said LHP Andy Pettitte (broken ankle) will throw a simulated game at some point this weekend. Pettitte has been on the DL since June 28. … Baltimore improved to 8-7 against New York this season. … The Orioles will send rookie Wei-Yin Chen to the mound Friday night and the Yankees will start Phil Hughes.