It all started in the top of the second inning when Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster threw four consecutive pitches inside to Alex Rodriguez. One of them missed behind Rodriguez and the final pitch beamed Rodriguez in the elbow, sparking a temporary clearing of the benches and an argument from Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Girardi was furious that a warning to both teams was not given until after Rodriguez was hit and that Dempster was not ejected from the game. Girardi was ejected instead.
It’s an unwritten rule that whenever a batter is deliberately hit by a pitch, the other pitcher is allowed one retaliation. That rule was misinterpreted by home plate umpire Brian O’Nora when both benches were warned.
Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia was denied a chance to retaliate, which was what infuriated Girardi. The incident later benefited the Yankees, who rallied from a three-run deficit to win 9-6. The rally started with Rodriguez passively making Dempster pay by taking him up and out to lead off the sixth inning.
Dempster showed that he values a personal vendetta over the Red Sox’ success when he hit Rodriguez. The Red Sox are in a tight race with the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. This team clearly needs to focus on winning each game rather than making statements in order to avoid a repeat of 2011, when the team went 7-20 in the month of September and missed out on a playoff spot.
Dempster may have cost the Red Sox the game on Sunday as it fired up the Yankees and they rallied to not only win, but even defend Rodriguez.
This is the exact type of thing that can bring a team together, and if the Yankees catch fire, I wouldn’t bet against them in a series against the Sox this postseason.
Robert Ambrose is a writer for rantsports.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RobertAmbrose4 and on Facebook.