Heading into the weekend, the Yankees needed no less than a series win in Boston. And with a 9-6 win Sunday night on the strength of Brett Gardner’s bases-clearing triple, the bombers got just that. But the biggest hit of the night, was delivered by the Red Sox.
With an appeal of a 211 game suspension hanging over him, Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the top of the 2nd. The Fenway faithful serenaded the beleaguered Rodriguez with his usual chorus of boos. On the first pitch, Sox starter Ryan Dempster threw behind him. The next two pitches just missed inside. With a 3-0 count, a fastball hit the Yankees 3rd baseman.
Manager Joe Girardi stormed out of the visitors’ dugout and came to the defense of his player. Because, as Girardi would say after the game, no matter what you think of a player, there’s an appeals process in place for a reason. No man should take the law into their own hands. And with that HBP, Girardi felt Dempster had done just that.
There’s no secret that the steroid era has left a big black mark on America’s pastime, but under the leagues CBA, as voted on by the players, Rodriguez has every right to continue playing. Whether you think he deserves to or not. And many Red Sox players, as well as league wide, have come out questioning the presence of A-Rod on the ball field.
So when A-Rod took his base, and Girardi was tossed, the game changed. Down 3-2 at the time, A-Rod would come around to score in the inning and tie the game. Then down 6-3 in the 6th, A-Rod sent one over the wall. The homer propelled the team to a 4-run inning that was topped off by Gardner’s go-ahead triple, all off Dempster.
The Yankees would take the game, and the series.
Four games against the Blue Jays in three days await them starting Tuesday with a double-dip in the Bronx. As of Monday afternoon they stand 6 games out of the Wildcard and 7.5 in the division. They’ve played better the last 10 days but still have a long way to go. But teams have been further back with fewer games to go and made it to the playoffs. The Yankees have a lot of work to do to secure a place in October, but with a majority of their games against teams they must leap-frog in the standings, never say never.
If they find a way, despite big wins against the Tigers and Angels of late, look back to that 3-0 pitch on August 18th as a turning point. Because when it comes to the Yankees these days, it always seems to come back to A-Rod and the Red Sox.