Somehow, you knew it would come to this. The New York Yankees channeled their anger and rallied around their third baseman — the most hated man in baseball and possibly in their own clubhouse — for a victory Sunday night in Boston.
With the crowd chanting “You’re a cheater,” Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the second inning and Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster struck him with his fourth pitch.
“Whether you like me or hate me, that was wrong,” A-Rod, who is hitting .319 in 47 at-bats, said after the Yankees took two of three games from the Rex Sox with a 9-6 win. “That was unprofessional and silly. It was kind of a silly way to get someone hurt on your team as well.”
Dempster said he was “just trying to pitch inside” and there were calls, particularly from Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, for him to be suspended. A-Rod, who is playing during the appeal of his 211-game suspension, expressed no opinion about that.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask about being suspended,” he joked. “Holy mackerel.”
Instead, he went out and got revenge — crushing a Dempster pitch for a home run that was the Yankees’ longest of the season and cut the Red Sox’ lead to 6-4, “It was the ultimate payback,” Rodriguez said.
His manager, ejected after A-Rod was plunked, was still steamed after the game and nearly punched home-plate ump Brian O’Nora in the kisser during his tirade.
“You can’t start throwing at people,” Girardi said. “Lives — people have had concussions. Lives are changed by getting hit by pitches. Whether I agree with everything that’s going on, you do not throw at people and you don’t take the law into your own hands. You don’t do that. We’re going to skip the judicial system? It’s ‘My Cousin Vinny.’ ”
Maybe this is the moment at which the Yankees turn their season around. They have seven more games against the Red Sox and A-Rod plays on, even as his legal saga unfolds. He has filed a grievance against the Yankees over the way they handled his hip injury and added Joe Tacopina (a guy the New York Post calls “the most hated man in New York”) to his legal team. He offered a spirited, if rather convoluted defense of his client on the “Today” show.
What’s starting to happen on the field is far more interesting than that, though. Somehow — you just know it — A-Rod is going to play a big role (either positively or negatively) in a pivotal game. Just look at how motivated his teammates were Sunday night.
“How could it not get you fired up?” Brett Gardner asked. “We know that we’re at a point in the season where we’ve got to play every game like it’s our last, and we were able to win the series.”