Those of you who had Ryan Dempster in the "First Pitcher Who Plunks A-Rod On Purpose" pool, congratulations, you were a winner last night.
It was pretty obvious to me that Dempster was sending a clear message to The Most Hated Man In Baseball in the second inning when he plunked him on a 3-0 pitch just below the shoulder. (It was not a "beaning" as one of the New York tabloids had it this morning. He wasn't hit in the head. THAT is a beaning.)
Naturally after the game, Dempster and the Red Sox denied he was throwing at him. But I would suspect that MLB will at least fine Dempster. And if he is, I wonder how many MLB players would step up and pay it for him? (I'm sure there were many MLB players applauding and smiling at their TV sets after Dempster did the plunking.)
This to me was most telling: if you saw the New York bench after Alex Rodriguez was hit, they weren't exactly screaming for blood. (Compare that to the time in the 2003 ALCS when Pedro Martinez plunked Karim Garcia, and all hell broke loose.) With the exception of manager Joe Girardi, who went bonkers after both benches were warned by the home plate ump Brian O'Nora and was ejected, they barely seemed to care. They didn't seem to yell and scream for vengeance at Dempster. (And I bet you any amount of money there were players on the New York Yankees who were silently applauding what Dempster did. Naturally, none would say it publicly, as they wouldn't want to cause a civil war in their own clubhouse.)
Some people might be calling Dempster a hero, but I won't go that far. A-Rod has caused a lot of problems for MLB and its players, and it was inevitable that some pitcher was going to send a clear and unmistakable message. (I thought the outspoken John Lackey would do it on Saturday.) And I bet it won't be the last time he is hit this season. There's a lot of anger at Rodriguez from the MLB fraternity, and that pitch from Dempster was really from all of them who are basically sick and tired of this prima donna.
And yes, there was a game to be finished last night, and all of the A-Rod nonsense aside, Dempster was simply terrible. The Sox gave him leads of 2-0 and 6-3, and he blew them both. He continues to be a mediocre pitcher, good some days and lousy on others. New York scored 4 runs in the 6th off him, and held on for a 9-6 win. The "player of the game" last night was the New York bullpen, who shut down the Sox after starter C.C. Sabathia (who also continues to be incredibly mediocre, too) left.
The Sox lead Tampa Bay by 1 game, and Baltimore by 4 1/2 games. (Both teams won on Sunday.) Now, the Red Sox have to travel to California to play the Giants starting tonight. (Damn that ESPN for hijacking yet another Sunday night game, one the Sox had to travel out to the West Coast the next morning. And can't we see a Red Sox-Yankees game on a Sunday afternoon for a change?)
It's an important six game swing through San Francisco and Los Angeles, and they will be doing it with big time rookie Xander Bogaerts, who was called up this morning, as Brock Holt was optioned back to Pawtucket.