Boston Red Sox: New York Yankees

Ranaudo gets to face his childhood hero

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
BOSTON -- One of Anthony Ranaudo’s fondest wishes comes true Friday night.

This goes beyond making his major-league debut for the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Ranaudo grew up in Jackson, N.J., in a family of Yankee fans. He was 7 years old when he went to his first big-league baseball game at Yankee Stadium. It was the Yankees’ home opener, they were playing Oakland, and it was the first time he laid eyes on his baseball hero, Derek Jeter.

Seventeen years later, the 24-year-old Ranaudo said in spring training that Jeter remains his favorite Yankee. How cool it would be, he said back in Fort Myers, if he got the chance to face his idol in his final season.

"Jeter was my guy all the way," Ranaudo said. "It's kind of weird, thinking I might get a chance to face him in his last year."

On Friday night, the second batter Ranaudo is scheduled to face in his big-league career is Derek Jeter. Presumably, he’ll wait until after the game to ask for an autograph.

Ranaudo was born in Freehold, the Jersey shore town more famously known as the place in which Bruce Springsteen grew up and 30 minutes from where Sox manager John Farrell was raised. Ranaudo went to high school at St. Rose in another Jersey town, Belmar.

"I spent a lot of time in Belmar growing up," said Farrell, the son of a lobster fisherman. "That's where my dad kept his boat."

Ranaudo becomes the ninth pitcher to make a start for the Sox this season, and third pitcher to make his big-league debut as a starter with the Sox in the last four seasons, joining Kyle Weiland (2011) and Allen Webster (2013). Brandon Workman made his debut as a reliever and Rubby De La Rosa had already debuted with the Dodgers.

In 21 starts this season for Triple-A Pawtucket, Ranaudo was 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA, striking out 99 and walking 49 in 119 1/3 innings.

In his last six starts with the PawSox, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Ranaudo was 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA, holding opponents to a .195 average in that span.

“The one thing he’s done seemingly all year while in Pawtucket is he’s gotten a high percentage of his outs with fastballs," Farrell said Friday. “He’s gotten some swing and misses. He’s been able to tighten up his breaking ball a little more than a year ago.

“I think that’s just part of his overall progression. The ability to throw the breaking ball behind in the count has been more readily available to him and he has pitched with a lot of confidence throughout the course of the year.”
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia made himself scarce in the clubhouse before Tuesday’s game, so his reaction to Mariano Rivera's high praise will have to wait.

Red Sox manager John Farrell did weigh in.

“Not surprising,’’ Farrell said. “I think [it’s] an incredible compliment from your opponent across the field, and maybe allows us to take a step back and really appreciate -- I don’t want to say what we take for granted, but what we see day in and day out.’’

Rivera, in a book, “The Closer,” that went on sale Tuesday, was hugely complimentary of Pedroia.

“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It's a special thing to see," the former Yankee closer wrote of Pedroia, according to an excerpt published in the New York Daily News.

Rivera added: "If I have to win one game, I'd have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman."

A look back at Rivera vs. Red Sox

September, 13, 2013

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMariano Rivera laughs as he listens to the mock cheers of Boston Red Sox fans after he is introduced before the start of the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees in 2005.
All season, we’ve been tracking Mariano Rivera as he prepares to pitch in his final series against each team. Next up on the goodbye list: the Boston Red Sox this weekend.

Did you know?
• Rivera's 58 saves vs. the Red Sox are not only the most against the franchise by any player, but are more than the next two pitchers on the list combined -- Rick Aguilera (27) and Roberto Hernandez (22).

• He has four saves vs. the Red Sox this season and with three games remaining has a chance to match or surpass his single-season mark for saves against Boston. In 2001, 2005 and 2007 he had six saves against the Red Sox.

• Rivera's 13 wins over the Red Sox are his most against any team. He is also tied with Rollie Fingers for the most wins by a relief pitcher against the Red Sox in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

• Mariano did not allow a home run to a Red Sox batter over his first 30 appearances (34 innings) against the team.

That streak of 30 straight relief appearances without allowing a homer to begin his career versus the Red Sox is the second-longest such streak all-time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Red Faber didn't allow a homer in his first 32 relief appearances vs. the Red Sox from 1914-33.

• The first Red Sox hitter to go deep vs. Rivera was Manny Ramirez on June 4, 2001. Rivera blew the save thanks to Ramirez's two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning, but Luis Sojo's walk-off single in the bottom of the frame gave Rivera and the Yankees the win.

• Rivera's six postseason saves against the Red Sox are his most against any team. It is also tied for the most postseason saves by a single player vs. any team. Dennis Eckersley also has six postseason saves vs. the Red Sox.

• In seven playoff appearances at Yankee Stadium vs. the Red Sox, Rivera has converted all three of his save opportunities and has not allowed a run in 10 innings. In those games he has faced just nine batters with a man in scoring position and has retired all of them, including five via strikeout.

• Rivera has blown 16 regular season saves vs. the Red Sox, his most vs. any team. It is also the most blown saves by a single pitcher vs. any team, ahead of Kent Tekulve's 14 blown saves vs. the Phillies.

• Rivera has hit nine Red Sox batters in his career. That's three more than any other team he's faced. He has hit Kevin Youkilis three times, but no other Red Sox player more than once.

• Rivera did not allow a stolen base in any of his first 48 appearances against the Red Sox, a streak that would end during the 2004 regular season when the Red Sox had steals in two different games against him.

They would get another in the postseason, the famous one by Dave Roberts in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the only one they would get in 12 postseason games against him.

He Said It
"In a world of uncertainty, in a world of 'look at me athletes', for almost 20 years he was the most selfless, accountable and consistent professional in the history of sports."
-- Curt Schilling, former Red Sox pitcher

The Magic Mo'ment
• Oct. 16, 2003: Rivera closes out Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS vs. the Red Sox with three scoreless innings. Rivera's effort allowed Aaron Boone to win the game with a walk-off home run leading off the 11th inning, giving the Yankees and Rivera one of the most dramatic postseason wins in baseball history.

More on Game 7:
• Rivera is one of four pitchers to throw at least three scoreless innings of relief to earn the win in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Hall-of-Famer Walter Johnson (1924 Senators), Joe Page (1947 Yankees) and Pedro Martinez (1999 Red Sox).

• Rivera has pitched three innings or more in two postseason games, both of which the Yankees won on dramatic home runs, the first by Jim Leyritz in Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS against the Mariners and the other in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, won by Boone’s homer.

Other Mo'ments
• April 11, 2005: Rivera is given a standing ovation as players are introduced at Fenway Park prior to the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees, one in which the home fans would celebrate the team ending its World Series drought. Rivera would respond by tipping his cap to the crowd.

• July 5, 2008: The Red Sox trail the Yankees 2-1 with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning. The time has come for a Rivera great escape. He would strike out Coco Crisp, get Jason Varitek to pop to first and strike out Julio Lugo to end the game.

Rivera to be honored at Fenway

September, 12, 2013
The Red Sox announced they will honor retiring New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park on Sunday night.

The 8:05 p.m. finale of the Yankees' three-game series in Boston will be Rivera's last regular-season game at Fenway.

Rivera, the league's all-time saves leader now in his 19th season, has made more appearances than any other visiting reliever in the 102-year history of Fenway Park.

Carp notes Yankees' sign-stealing gripes

September, 11, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox first baseman Mike Carp knew all about the hoohah that erupted Monday night in Baltimore, after the Yankees accused Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson of stealing signs, leading to a heated confrontation between Baltimore manager Buck Showalter and New York manager Joe Girardi.

"They did the same thing to me the day before," said Carp, who played first base for the Sox on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, where the Sox lost 4-3 to the Yankees.

Carp could be seen barking back and forth with the Yankees' dugout early in the game, and he said Wednesday that they were accusing him of stealing signs.

"Pretty much their whole dugout," Carp said when asked who was making the accusation. "But it was their pitching coach [Larry Rothschild], I think, who came to the top step."

Carp laughed at the suggestion that he was guilty as charged.

"I'm not even an every-day player," he said. "I wasn't stealing signs. I couldn't take that from them."

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 13, Yankees 9

September, 7, 2013

NEW YORK -- Not even the alarming news that Jacoby Ellsbury may have sustained the most significant September injury by a Red Sox outfielder since a future Hall of Famer named Jim Rice broke his wrist in 1975 could keep the Sox from their appointed rounds Saturday afternoon, which in this case meant another beatdown of the New York Yankees and one step closer to a division title.

With Ellsbury on a plane to Denver for a second opinion regarding a possible fractured navicular bone in his right foot -- the same bone that shortened Dustin Pedroia's season to 75 games in 2010 -- the Sox won their third straight over the Yankees, 13-9, before a sellout crowd of 49,046 in Yankee Stadium.

The Sox made it five straight wins overall and eight of their last nine to go 30 games over .500 (87-57) for the first time this season. The magic number to winning the AL East title is 13, and could shrink further if the Tampa Bay Rays lose again in Seattle.

On Aug. 24, the Red Sox and Rays were tied for the AL East lead. Since then, the Sox have won 11 of 13 while the Rays have lost 10 of 13, not including their game against the Mariners Saturday night. Talk about two roads diverging in a yellow wood.

Finally, the heavens opened for Red Sox pitcher John Lackey and runs rained down, which must have been as disorienting as a monsoon in the desert, because Lackey gave seven of them back in his worst outing of the season.

Sox rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the Promised Child, made his first big league home run one to remember, hitting it over the visitors’ bullpen, 443 feet away, as calculated by the home run trackers at ESPN Stats & Info.

Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli homered in consecutive innings. We’d tell you the order, but since Gomes says even his kids can’t tell them apart, we won’t hazard a guess which came first. (A check of the box score says Napoli went deep with a runner on in the second inning, and Gomes followed an inning later with two aboard.)

Then Napoli did it again in the ninth, his 21st of the season and fourth in four games, and kids throughout New England were asking their mothers if they could trick or treat on Halloween as a Soggy Bottom boy (Game 7 of the World Series, by the way, falling on Halloween this year).

The Red Sox, who scored 20 runs in the course of one night against the Tigers last Wednesday, put another 21 on the board against the Yankees in the span of eight innings spread over two nights. Nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings Friday, a dozen more (2 in the second, 3 in the third, 5 in the fourth, 2 in the fifth) in the first five innings Saturday.

"Right now they’re not missing pitches," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees, who needed a reliever [David Huff] to make his first start of the season and were one step away from recruiting ushers to work out of the bullpen after setup men Boone Logan and David Robertson both got hurt Friday night, had little answer to a Sox offense that has 17 home runs in the last four games and had hits from every batter in the order by the end of the fourth inning Saturday.

It wasn’t much later that Roger Angell, the elegant bard of baseball just 12 days shy of his 93rd birthday, slipped out of the press box, perhaps having surmised that if it was a football score he wanted, he could have just stayed at home and flipped on his television, rather than watching this one. The Yankees have used a franchise-record 53 players this season and the vast majority of them will never make the cut for Yankee hagiography.

To the Yankees’ credit, they gamely battled back, knocking Lackey out in the sixth (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER) and drawing to within three of the Sox before Napoli, who had hit a 3-0 pitch off Huff for his second-inning home run, connected again off Brett Marshall.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8

September, 6, 2013

NEW YORK -- This is the week the Red Sox crossed over the threshold from rational to irrational, from fact to fiction, from things that can be explained to things that go bump in the night.

Our humble suggestion: Just accept that this is a baseball odyssey like very few others, and grab on with both hands for the ride. And if you’re able to grow a beard -- or a single whisker, which was about all that separated Mike Napoli's magical grand slam from being just another fly ball to right field in Yankee Stadium Friday night -- so much the better.

As the great Ned Martin said in a broadcast long ago during another wildly improbable saga with words that surely echoed in the memories of longtime Sox fans: "If you’ve just turned your radio on, it’s happened again."

A franchise that began the year bent on winning back New England hearts and minds can not only declare mission accomplished, but can lay claim to reviving a message that once inflamed the imagination of an entire generation of Sox fans.

Did you say impossible? Tell that to Yaz and Rico and Gentleman Jim, and try slipping that by the Soggy Bottom Boys of Napoli and Gomes, Victorino and Ross, Carp and Pedroia. Good luck with that.

A night after blowing a 7-2, seventh-inning lead to the Yankees, the Sox rallied from an 8-3 deficit to tie the score on Napoli’s slam, a fly ball which hit the top of the right-field wall, just 335 feet away from home plate and clearing Ichiro Suzuki’s glove by the length of his beard. Shane Victorino, the accidental right-handed slugger who won Thursday night’s game with a 10th-inning single, then broke the tie with a two-run home run in the eighth, and the Sox tacked on another two runs to win 12-8 before a crowd of 44,117. A gathering that surely preferred those days when the Yankees were the ones inflicting constant sorrow on their visitors, rather than being on the receiving end of misery, from a team now just 19 games away from a finish line that looks increasingly like a welcome mat to October.

Nine runs in the last three innings Friday night. A game-tying, broken-bat hit off The Great Rivera who had them one strike away from defeat the night before. A record-tying eight home runs the night before that in Fenway Park. A grinding 2-1 win over a pitcher who had lost only once all season the night before that.

Mind-bending feats compressed into four nights, when they could easily have filled a season’s worth of highlight reels. These guys are real -- just ask a crestfallen Joe Girardi -- but they have a knack for summoning ghosts, too.

Here’s one: Napoli’s grand slam was his third this season. Only one Sox player has hit more in one summer: Babe Ruth. And he did it in 1919, his last year in a Boston uniform. Witches can be right, giants can be good, curses can become blessings.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 9, Yankees 8

September, 5, 2013

NEW YORK -- All season, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny capacity to quickly recover from whatever setback they might suffer, whether it was losing an ace, a closer (or two), or blowing a big lead, the way they did in Anaheim in July, coughing up a four-run ninth-inning lead in an extra-inning loss to the Angels.

That quality was put to its biggest test yet, after what looked to be a pedestrian night in the Bronx -- the Sox taking a 7-2 lead before a disgruntled gathering of 40,481 in the Bronx -- suddenly went all Heisenberg on them, the Yankees scoring six runs in the seventh inning to seize an 8-7 advantage.

But down to their final three outs, against the Great Rivera, Red Sox resilience enjoyed perhaps its finest hour -- though it took a Dave Roberts wannabe, a last-out single by hitless Stephen Drew, and Shane Victorino knocking in the winning run after umpire Joe West issued a dubious reprieve for the Sox to emerge with a 9-8, 10-inning win over the mortally wounded Bombers.

The Sox have 20 games left. They have won 10 of their last 12 games. They are 28 games over .500 for the first time all season. They already have won 16 more games than the Class of 2012, the biggest one-year improvement since the ’67 Impossible Dreamers were 20 games better than their predecessors.

The Rays, playing in Anaheim Thursday night knowing the Sox won yet again, are running out of time.

And so are the Yankees, who could ill afford to lose any more ground in the AL East. They showed just how much they meant business Thursday night when Joe Girardi called on Mariano Rivera for the last three outs, only the second time all season the 43-year-old closer has pitched in three consecutive games, and the first time he has pitched the night after being asked to get four outs.

Rivera quickly retired David Ortiz and Daniel Nava, but Mike Napoli lined a single to center and was replaced by pinch runner Quintin Berry, recruited by Sox general manager Ben Cherington -- who got him in a minor league deal from the Royals in late August -- to reprise the role of base-stealing legend Roberts, should the opportunity present itself.

Berry’s audition went spectacularly Thursday night, as he stole second and continued to third when catcher Austin Romine’s throw went into center field. Drew then lined a single to right, and after Craig Breslow picked off Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the ninth -- Soriano picked off second after avoiding a similar fate when he broke early from first, only to have Breslow bounce his throw -- the Sox staged their winning rally in the 10th.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out off Joba Chamberlain, the seventh Yankees pitcher, and stole second. Victorino, who appeared to have gone around on a two-strike slider from Chamberlain but was spared by first-base ump West’s no-swing call, lined the next pitch to right field for a single. Ichiro Suzuki came up throwing and beat Ellsbury to the plate with a bullet to the plate, but catcher Romine couldn’t handle the short hop and Ellsbury slide safely in.

After Chamberlain was taken out of the game, he directed some choice words at West from the dugout, and was ejected.

The Sox then placed the game in the hands of closer Koji Uehara, who wrapped them around Yankees throats, striking out Lyle Overbay on a 12-pitch at-bat, then striking out Ichiro Suzuki to end it.

The Sox, who for the better part of three weeks have been playing some of their best baseball of the season, have seldom looked worse than they did during Thursday night’s bullpen implosion in the seventh, which began with manager John Farrell’s decision to send Jake Peavy out to start the inning even though his pitch count through six was at 105.

Suzuki worked an eight-pitch walk, Vernon Wells followed with a pinch single, and the comeback was on. Lefty Matt Thornton gave up a flared RBI single, a walk and a force play, then gave way to Junichi Tazawa. Alfonso Soriano singled through an overshifted infield for one run, Curtis Granderson doubled home another, and Overbay, whom the Red Sox deemed expendable in March, finally extracted his pound of flesh, delivering a two-run single that gave the Bombers the lead.

Girardi: Sox-Yanks 'means more to us'

September, 5, 2013
NEW YORK -- A few hits from New York prior to the first game of this four-game set between the Red Sox and Yankees:

-- Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the series probably means more to the Yankees than it does the Sox, who began the night 5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East, while the Bombers are 2 games out of a wild-card spot.

“It means a lot -- it probably means more to us because of where we are in the standings,’’ Girardi said. “They (the Sox) got a little cushion. If you’re in their shoes, you’re fighting for home-field advantage.’’

-- The Yankees are 7-3 since the Sunday night game in Fenway (Aug. 25) in which Sox starter Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, for which Dempster was slapped with a five-game suspension.

Girardi, asked if it was plausible to credit an incident like that for banding a team closer together, didn’t seem too sold on the idea. “I don’t know. Maybe you can. It fired the team up a little bit, not that we weren’t fired up.

“Sometimes an incident like that can change things. I’m not saying it did, but it can.’’

-- Red Sox manager John Farrell said he had not been approached by MLB officials or the umpiring crew cautioning against a resumption of hostilities. “We haven’t heard anything to date,’’ Farrell said. “If something is said at the plate, we’ll find out prior to game time.’’

Asked if he expected any retaliation, Farrell said: “If there is to be retaliation -- I don’t think there will be -- but you never know. This game has a way of taking care of itself. If that is to be the case, we’ll play the game.’’

-- Farrell confirmed what has been obvious for some time, that Clay Buchholz will be inserted into the starting rotation next week, assuming his third rehab start Thursday night for Triple-A Pawtucket proceeds without a hitch. He insisted the club has not met internally to discuss who would come out of the rotation, nor has he had any discussions with any of the team’s starters about who might be dropped. Beginning next week, the Sox will have three consecutive Mondays as off-days, giving Farrell the option of shortening the rotation even more should he choose to do so.

-- Sox reliever Andrew Miller, who has shed his crutches and gets around on his own with his surgically repaired left foot in a boot, said he is at a point where he can begin rehabbing the injury. The most encouraging thing, Miller said, is that he should be able to fully participate when spring training opens next season.

Miller said he spoke with Daniel Bard, his teammate at the University of North Carolina before the pair was reunited with the Sox, and said Bard was excited about going to the Chicago Cubs and a chance for a fresh start. Miller said that the spotlight should be much less acute on Bard with the Cubs than it was with the Red Sox, where even his minor league appearances drew a media crowd, making it that much harder to hit the reset button. The attention was understandable, Miller said, given the success Bard had with the Sox in previous years. With the Cubs, Miller added, Bard won’t attract anywhere near the same degree of interest as he makes his way back. “He’s healthy, he feels good,’’ Miller said.

-- The Sox tied an AL record when seven different players combined to hit eight home runs in Wednesday night’s 20-4 win over the Detroit Tigers.

-- Men of La Mancha: The Sox have already won 15 more games than last year (69-93). That’s the biggest improvement in a non-strike year since the “Impossible Dream” Sox of ’67 went 92-70, a swing of 20 games from the previous year (72-90).

-- With Mariano Rivera recording a four-out save Wednesday for his 41st save, one night after notching save No. 40, Girardi said he wasn’t certain Rivera would be available Thursday night.

-- The Red Sox have not been caught stealing since Jacoby Ellsbury was picked off first in the first inning by Royals pitcher Bruce Chen on Aug. 8 in Kansas City. The Sox have stolen 24 bases in 24 games since. The breakdown: Ellsbury 11, Shane Victorino 5, Dustin Pedroia 2, Will Middlebrooks 2, Stephen Drew 1, Jarrod Saltalamacchia 1, Jonny Gomes 1, Mike Carp 1.

-- Saltalamacchia is still receiving treatment on his back but was able to throw Friday and is expected to catch at some point this weekend, Farrell said.

Dempster gets 5-game suspension

August, 20, 2013
Boston Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster received a five-game suspension and undisclosed fine for intentionally hitting the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. announced Tuesday.


What do you think of Ryan Dempster's 5-game suspension for plunking A-Rod?


Discuss (Total votes: 15,832)

Dempster threw one pitch behind A-Rod's knees on Sunday night and two more inside at Fenway Park. Then his 3-0 pitch struck Rodriguez's left elbow pad and ricocheted off his back.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday before his team's doubleheader against Toronto that Dempster needed to be suspended or it would be "open season" on Rodriguez.

"You just can't throw at someone because you don't like him or disagree with the way something's being handled," Girardi said "If a player is suspended for throwing at someone, they're going to get their appeal," Girardi said. "Are we going to throw that out, too? So, I mean, this is what's been negotiated."

Many probably applauding Dempster

August, 19, 2013
DempsterAP Photo/Michael Dwyer"I just didn't do my job tonight and thats the most frustrating part." said Ryan Dempster. "Thats the part I'm most angry about."
BOSTON -- He might be the most popular man in the baseball world today.

Ryan Dempster will be remembered as the Boston Red Sox pitcher that drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch when most believe the Yankees third baseman shouldn’t even be playing after he received a 211-game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis scandal.

Dempster threw three consecutive balls inside to Rodriguez in the second inning, then delivered his fourth offering -- right to A-Rod's ribs.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez let his emotions show after hamming a solo shot in the sixth inning off Ryan Dempster, who had beaned him in the second.
After New York’s 9-6 win over Boston in the series finale Sunday night at Fenway Park, Dempster said he was not trying to hit A-Rod.

“No, I was just trying to pitch him inside,” he said.

Red Sox manager John Farrell backed him up, saying it was evident his starter was trying to establish his fastball inside, not only to Rodriguez, but other batters, too.

“Regarding the first at-bat to Rodriguez, much like Ryan has done many, many starts, that he establishes his fastball, and there are hitters in a given lineup he’s got to establish it in,” Farrell said.

Farrell was asked if he thought Dempster hit Rodriguez on purpose.

“I don’t know that he hit him on purpose. I don’t think he did,” the manager said.

The Red Sox held a 2-0 lead after the first inning. When Rodriguez stepped into the box in the top of the second, Dempster’s first offering was thrown behind the batter, which the pitcher later said was supposed to be a sinker down and in.

“I’ve watched a lot of video on him and a lot of guys were having success throwing the ball down there,” Dempster said.

When the fourth pitch hit Rodriguez, the benches and bullpens emptied and Yankees manager Joe Girardi was outraged, wanting Dempster ejected from the game. It appeared he was yelling at Dempster, but the Red Sox starter said he didn’t hear anything coming from the New York skipper.

“Me and Joe? No. Nothing. I was just trying to get focused and get back to trying to make pitches,” Dempster said. “I didn’t really try to get too caught up in it. Obviously, he was upset but I just tried to get back and try to make my pitches.”

Home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora quickly issued warnings to both benches, which did not surprise Dempster.

“When the first one got away, I thought after that maybe there would be,” he said. “It escalated but Brian did an unbelievable job throughout the rest of the game. There were some more guys hit [a total of four], more guys pitched inside both teams, and he did a really good job of controlling the game back there.”

Farrell said he understood why Girardi was so upset.

“Everyone is going to have their own view of the situation,” Farrell said.


Assuming Ryan Dempster hit A-Rod intentionally, do you agree with the move?


Discuss (Total votes: 13,468)

“Do I understand why Joe was upset? If it’s one of my players, yeah, I’m going to interpret a certain way on our side as well.”

Dempster, Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox stood by the notion it was not intentional. And the debate will be whether or not it was a smart move by the Red Sox to hit Rodriguez in that situation, especially with Boston’s lead in the AL East now at one game over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I’m just more disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t hold a 6-3 lead,” he said. “That’s the bigger story. We’ve got a game right there in hand to win and I didn’t do a very good job of making pitches in the sixth inning. I’ve got to execute better. The guys go out there and score a bunch of runs off a guy like [CC] Sabathia, you’ve got to go out there and make your pitches and hold your lead and I didn’t do that.”

The drama escalated when Rodriguez crushed a solo home run to deep center field off Dempster to start the sixth inning. A-Rod showed his excitement as he rounded first base with a clap of his hands and a fist pump. When he crossed home plate, he stood there and pointed skyward as the boos increased.

“I knew he got it when he hit it,” Dempster said. “I’m sure any time any hitter gets hit by a pitch, when you hit a home run the next time up it always probably feels good. That’s just reality. It was unfortunate because it started off the inning with a run when you’re trying to get the leadoff guy out.”

Of course, many players feel that Rodriguez shouldn't even be playing. Major League Baseball suspended him for 211 games, but he’s still able to play because he’s appealing the decision. That has made many opponents upset because Rodriguez’s presence on the field can affect the final regular-season standings.

In fact, prior to this series, several Red Sox players made their displeasure known, including pitchers John Lackey and Jon Lester.

Dempster is not the first pitcher to hit A-Rod since he returned to action on Aug. 5. White Sox pitcher Chris Sale hit Rodriguez on Aug. 6 at Chicago.

Truth be told, many pitchers are upset that players are using performance-enhancing drugs. It seems like Dempster, a veteran who has plugged his way through a 16-year career, would be the perfect pitcher to send a message.

It would have been a classic moment if Dempster admitted guilt. Of course, that would have paved the way for disciplinary action by MLB.

Either way, Red Sox fans will cheer the veteran hurler for life for what occurred Sunday night.

“I just wish I would’ve went out there for the fans and put up a better performance on the mound,” he said.

Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the best view in the house when the ball hit Rodriguez.

“Well, you saw what happens when we go away,” Saltalamacchia said, referring to Rodriguez’s home run in the sixth inning. “He’s a good hitter. We hadn’t really thrown in on him all series. Dempster’s a guy that can’t overpower, so he’s got to get crafty with his pitches and goes off of location, so to get him from diving, you have to kind of go in on the guy. We got to a 2-0 count and I wanted to go, I think he wanted to go in again to get a strike, then that way we can go away, get him thinking in, in, in, in, in. We couldn’t get there, so we got to 3-0 and I think he wanted to go in again. At times you go in for a strike in non-fastball counts just so you can get him out away. It just didn’t work.”

That’s a lengthy explanation, but Saltalamacchia chalked up the episode to the storied rivalry.

“This battle between two teams is always going to be intense, regardless of the situation, or what’s going on,” Saltalamacchia said. “Unfortunately, it happened but we still had a baseball game to play.”

Dempster took the blame for the Red Sox loss.

“I just didn’t do my job tonight and that’s the most frustrating part,” Dempster said. “That’s the part I’m most angry about.”

Many in the baseball world probably feel like he did do his job. At least the 37,917 in attendance did and that’s why he received a standing ovation when he walked off the field despite a poor outing.

A-Rod thrives as both villain and victim

August, 19, 2013

BOSTON -- We'll leave it to one of our neighborhood's deepest thinkers to weigh in on the meaning of Alex Rodriguez in Sunday night’s 9-6 New York Yankee win over the Boston Red Sox, though they just missed each other by about a century or so.

“As there is a use in medicine for poisons," Ralph Waldo Emerson of Concord once wrote, “so the world cannot move without rogues."

[+] EnlargeARod
AP Photo/Michael DwyerThe second-inning drilling by Ryan Dempster seemed to galvanize A-Rod as well as his teammates.

Oh we so loathe, and so love, our bad guys, and Sunday night in Fenway Park, Rodriguez put the V in villainy with an evening's entertainment breathtaking in its brazenness. The Yankees’ third baseman, whose own general manager, Brian Cashman, admits to being worn out by the daily dose of drama that emanates from Planet Alex, responded to a blatant drilling by Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster by coming around to score in the second, bringing home the go-ahead run with an infield out in the third, then touching off a four-run, game-turning rally in the sixth with a prodigious home run into the center-field bleachers.

He then singled in his final two at-bats, finishing with five hits for the weekend and raising the very real possibility that a player regarded as a serial cheater could be the instrument of pain that deprives the Red Sox of their place in the playoffs. The Yankees play the Sox seven more times this season, Boston’s lead over Tampa Bay is back to being a mere game, and every Sox loss in which Rodriguez figures prominently will be a hot poker in the eye of fair play, at least as seen through the prism of a Boston partisan.

And naturally, after his home run, Rodriguez added a theatrical touch worthy of Iago, or more fittingly, Dustin Pedroia's wrestling pal, Ric Flair. With Fenway Park bubbling with bile, Rodriguez after circling the bases lingered at home plate, kissed his fingertips and pointed to the sky, a David Ortiz-like gesture calculated to infuriate, which it did.

But Rodriguez’s show of insouciance in the face of such naked hatred only seemed to galvanize his fellow Yankees, who punished Dempster for targeting Rodriguez by driving him from the mound in the sixth inning after a yield of nine hits and seven runs, the last three runs scoring on a bases-clearing triple by Brett Gardner. It was Gardner, coincidentally, who of all the Bombers seemed to take the most umbrage at Dempster making Rodriguez skip out of the way of one pitch, then drilling him with a 3-and-0 pitch aimed squarely at his ribs. The feisty Yankees center fielder was one of the first out of the dugout to express his objections to Dempster’s inflammatory act, one that had been anticipated ever since fellow Sox pitcher John Lackey publicly condemned A-Rod being back in uniform despite having been suspended 211 games.


Assuming Ryan Dempster hit A-Rod intentionally, do you agree with the move?


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The crowd of 37,917, of course, loved it. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, not so much, especially after plate umpire Brian O’Nora issued warnings to Dempster and both benches. That hardly squared with Girardi’s conception of justice, and he made that point with such vigor, he was ejected from the game.

“You can’t just start taking potshots," Girardi would tell reporters later, “because you don’t like the way the system is set up."

Dempster was allowed to stay, which given his track record against the Yankees (0-6 with a 7.57 ERA in 8 career starts), may well have worked in their favor. The Yankees went double, single, sacrifice fly after A-Rod’s plunking to produce two runs. Two singles and A-Rod’s ground-ball out made it 3-2, Yanks, in the third, and after the Sox kept whacking away at CC Sabathia (7 H, 6 ER, 5 B) to pull ahead 6-3, Will Middlebrooks impressively homering into the Sox's bullpen in the fourth, A-Rod’s home run was the first of five Yankees hits in the sixth.

Dempster made the obligatory denials: “I was just trying to pitch inside.” And his manager, John Farrell, adopted the obligatory stand-by-your-man stance: “I don’t know that he hit him on purpose. I don’t think he did."

Dempster strayed closer to the truth when he said: “I’m more disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t hold a 6-3 lead. That’s the bigger story right there. Guys go out there and score a bunch of runs off a guy like Sabathia, you gotta go out there and make pitches, and I didn’t do that."

And so it was left to the anti-A-Rod, the virtuous Mariano Rivera, to put the finishing touches on the Yankees' victory, more than four hours after it began. The Sox went home to sleep this one off before boarding a plane Monday morning for San Francisco. A-Rod? First, he signed a few autographs and did an on-field TV interview before returning to the clubhouse, where he uttered a classic bad-guy response when asked if he thought Dempster should be suspended for hitting him.

“I’m the wrong guy," he told reporters, “to ask about suspensions."

Then, like all villains, he disappeared into the night.

Right or wrong, A-Rod's an AL East factor

August, 17, 2013
Alex RodriguezJim Rogash/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez continues to be a lightning rod for controversy -- and a contributor for the Yankees.
BOSTON -- Like or it not, Alex Rodriguez is having an impact on the AL East race.

Against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a walk, run scored, stolen base and made numerous plays at third base as the New York Yankees won 10-3.

"He got a couple of knocks, but one guy is not going to beat us," Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said.

Since returning to the Yankees' lineup on Aug. 5, Rodriguez is batting .300 with four runs scored, one home run, four RBIs and four walks in 10 games.

While fans at Fenway showered A-Rod with boos throughout Friday’s Sox-Yankees series opener, they weren’t alone in voicing their displeasure with the embattled slugger. Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester joined Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in opining that Rodriguez shouldn’t be in the lineup while he’s appealing his 211-game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal.

"Especially in our division, this guy can turn some things around, affect the game one way or another coming down the stretch," Lester said before Friday’s game. "If that means us not making the playoffs, or Tampa, or whatever, I don’t think that’s right."

Red Sox manager John Farrell was more measured in his comments regarding Rodriguez’s presence.

"I think we’re all certainly well aware of the situation he’s in and it clearly is within his rights to appeal," Farrell said. "That’s really all I’ve got to say about it. He’s taking advantage of the process that is clearly his right so we’ll see how that all plays out."

As for the fourth-place Yankees, Farrell said it’s too early to rule them out of the postseason equation.

"I don’t think anyone has written them off by any means," Farrell said. "We’ve got nine more games remaining against them. They’ve got a completely different look to their lineup than we saw a month ago and they’ve got a lot of life right now. I thought [Andy Pettitte tonight was much more sharp than the last time we faced him. Almost looked rejuvenated in a way, stuff was more crisp. They’re obviously feeling pretty good about themselves right now."

Rodriguez seems likely to remain in the lineup until the end of the season, boosting New York’s chance to close the gap in the division.

"Offensively they did good," Red Sox DH David Ortiz said. "The situation they’re into right now, they had a lack of offense for a while, and now they’re swinging the bat pretty well."

Dustin Pedroia echoed Ortiz in giving credit to the Yankees, but he still has confidence in what the Red Sox can do.

"They have great players. They’re the New York Yankees. They figure out a way to play well," Pedroia said. "We have great players also."

Sox's woes compounded by Soriano, Yanks

August, 17, 2013

BOSTON -- Tonight, A-Rod.

But how soon before they begin to turn on their own?

The Red Sox haven't been inspiring much confidence of late, and Friday night's 10-3 loss to the Yankees won't help matters. A crowd of 38,143, the biggest of the season, lustily booed Alex Rodriguez's every move. But by the end of the night, there were groans aplenty for the performance of the hometown nine, who lost for the sixth time in the past eight games.

With Tampa Bay winning in walk-off fashion again Friday night, Boston's lead is back down to a game in the AL East, the closest the Rays have been since Boston's lead shrank to a half-game on Aug. 5, the night the Sox were shut out in Houston at the start of their just-completed 10-game trip. The Sox are now 14-13, a game over .500, since the All-Star break, and trying to keep their heads above water through their most arduous stretch of the season -- a 19-game odyssey that is taking the Soggy Bottom Boys through three time zones, two countries, two leagues and five cities outside of their home area code, where this three-game set against the Bombers represents their only stop at home in a three-week span. It hasn't been pretty, and it could get worse before it gets better.

"We're not going to make wholesale changes," Sox manager John Farrell said after a night in which the Yankees banged out 15 hits, including home runs by pinstriped newcomer Mark Reynolds and Alfonso Soriano, the reincarnated Bomber, that accounted for five runs in the first three innings.

"We have to continue with our approach," Farrell said. "That's been proven successful over the long run. We've got to stay with our day-to-day approach."

The Sox trailed 6-0 after three innings, Felix Doubront making hash of his reputation as a Yankee-killer. Reynolds, meanwhile, burnished his as a Sox-killer, hitting a two-run home run in the second in his first at-bat as a Yankee. Reynolds hit six homers against the Sox last season while playing for the Orioles, three at Fenway.

The Sox had three hits, all singles, through six innings against Andy Pettitte, who cruised to his 20th career win against the Sox, most of any active pitcher, allowing three runs, all unearned, before departing with two on and two out in the seventh.

Alfonso Soriano
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsAlfonso Soriano became one of six major leaguers to drive in 18 runs in a four-game stretch.
Sox shortstop Stephen Drew misplayed a double-play ground ball in the third just before Soriano launched a three-run home run, his latest blow in a hot streak of historic proportions. In his past four games, Soriano is 13-for-18 (.727) with five home runs, 18 RBIs and nine runs. He is one of six players all time to drive in 18 runs in four games, the 18 RBIs more than any Sox player has driven in during the 27 games the Sox have played since the All-Star break (David Ortiz leads with 16). More home runs, too.

"All those haters who have been talking all that [expletive] about him, they can [expletive]," Ortiz said of his fellow Dominican.

Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leaped and missed Eduardo Nunez's triple in the fourth, even though his glove was clearly in the right neighborhood. That led to another Yankees run.

Jonny Gomes was picked off first with the Sox trailing 7-1 in the fourth.

Ortiz was out trying to stretch a single into a double with the Sox trailing 7-2 in the seventh.

Mike Carp was ejected after being called out on strikes to end the seventh, after thinking reliever Shawn Kelly had bounced a pitch off his foot. The umpires huddled and decided otherwise (replays showed dust kicking up in front of Carp's shoe, suggesting they got it right), and the normally low-key Carp overheated when plate umpire Bill Welke rung him up on a full-count pitch, hurling his bat and helmet to the ground.

"We weren't sharp tonight," Farrell said. "Set the tone right out of the gate with some mislocated pitches. ... Yeah, this wasn't one of our sharper efforts."

And then, just to make sure everyone left good and unhappy, Rodriguez speared an Ortiz line drive in the eighth and turned it into a rally-killing double play. He also lined a single in the ninth, his second hit of the night and one of four line drives he hit in five at-bats, and was on the back end of a double steal with Soriano, which might have been the oldest in baseball history (A-Rod is 38, Soriano 37).

While the Yankees were tacking on three more runs in the ninth, the scoreboard showed another walk-off win by the Rays.

"We just aren't playing well," Ortiz said. "Got to win some games. Guess it's one of those funks you get into, I guess we need to get out of it."

Through it all, whether after a walk-off or during a three-game losing streak like this one, which matches Boston's longest of the season, Farrell has rarely deviated more than a tick or two on the emotional scale. Friday was no exception. He praised the Yankees -- "I don't think anyone has written them off by any means" -- but dismissed any suggestion that the team's recent play is grounds for concern.

"This is somewhat reminiscent of the stretch in early May that we went through where we created a number of opportunities that we didn't cash in on," he said. "I kind of look at this in the same vein. ... The biggest thing is that we've got to continue to create the opportunities. At some point, that will turn.

"I'm very confident in our team. We've got a good team."

Dustin Pedroia, who had two more hits Friday after collecting his first three-hit game since June 28 the night before in Toronto, was of similar mind.

"We're just trying to win some games," he said, dismissing the suggestion that the team is off-kilter. "They swung the bats well tonight; tomorrow, we get after it."

Notes: Middlebrooks' surge, Yanks' chances

August, 16, 2013
BOSTON -- A few notes prior to Friday night's A-Rod lovefest:

--Sox manager John Farrell said that Will Middlebrooks could emerge as a candidate for the No. 5 lineup hole occupied until recently by Mike Napoli.

"That possibility certainly exists," Farrell said. "He's going to tell us when he's ready. As we've seen of late, the bottom half of the lineup has got some [flexibility]. ... We've fluctuated a little bit trying to ride a little bit more of the hot hand at times and when the matchups might present themselves to be an advantage. So, that could happen at times.” Middlebrooks has batted .389 (7-for-18) since being recalled from Pawtucket.

"He looks more relaxed in the box," Farrell said. "That's probably the biggest thing that stands out right now. Prior to him being optioned back, I think there was a tendency to maybe try to make up for some previous at-bats. That's not the case now, he's playing with a little bit more of a free mind. He's taking a number of good passes while at the plate and he gives us the potential to lengthen out the lineup with a power bat in the bottom part of the order. He just looks more understanding of not only what his checkpoints are, but how can he address a certain pitch, particularly on the outer part of the plate.”

--Farrell said he has not decided how much David Ortiz will play first base on the West Coast trip to play two National League opponents, the Dodgers and Giants, but acknowledged that Napoli's slump could factor into that decision.

--The Yankees are 8 out of the division lead, 6 games back in the wild-card race, in which five teams rank ahead of them:

"We believe we have a chance to get back in it," manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yanks have 42 games left, the Sox 39.

--Farrell had little interest in interjecting himself into the should-he-be-playing A-Rod debate:

"I think we're all certainly well aware of the situation he's in," Farrell said, "and it clearly is within his rights to appeal. That's really all I've got to say about it. He's taking advantage of the process that is clearly his right so we'll see how that all plays out."

--Farrell also limited his remarks on the news that the son of Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy had been charged in the murder of a 27-year-old mother, Jennifer Martel.

"It's an ongoing investigation," he said. "Our thoughts, our prayers and our sympathy is certainly with the Martel family. Other than that, that's kind of where it stays."