Game 123: NYY vs. BOS — Long road to an unexpected but well-deserved victory

Boston-New York games are always statistically longer than the average MLB game. Tonight was no exception in length coming in at 4 hours and 12 minutes in front of a very heated, very vocal sold-out crowd at Fenway. Tonight’s game was also no exception to the storied history between the two rivals.

CC Sabathia threw 103 pitches over 5.1 innings, allowing 7 hits, 6 runs, and 5 walks, and striking out 5 batters. No where near the Sabathia the Yankees have come to rely on for tough games, but definitely better than some recent outings.  (Those 6 runs were scored by a sacrifice fly and an RBI single in the 1st, a RBI groundout in the 3rd, a sacrifice fly and solo home run in the 4th, and a walked-in run in the 5th.) Keeping the Red Sox firmly planted at those 6 runs, Kelley closed out the 6th inning, then Logan and Robertson each took an inning, before Mariano Rivera entered the game. His first game in a week, after blowing his 3rd consecutive save, and he walks away with tonight’s save (his 36th of the year) and hands Sabathia the win. And the entire Yankee fan base, clubhouse, and executive team breath a collected sigh of relief as the Yankees wing their way back home, winning tonight’s game and the weekend series.

The Yankees had their fill of offensive effort with their total 17 hits (to Boston’s 9). Things got tricky for the Yankees in the 2nd inning, and without it, I don’t know if there would have been such a push to win this game. Okay, so the Red Sox pitcher threw four really lousy pitches at Alex Rodriguez, tightly behind his back, two tight inside, and then drilled him in the back of his left elbow. The pitcher, clearly out to harm Rodriguez but quick to feign ignorance (and later backed by his manager), ended up being warned and both dugouts were warned by the home plate umpire. A warning for intentional harm? Yeah, Girardi didn’t like that much either. Very heated himself, Girardi’s argument with the umpire quickly escalated to his ejection, but his argument seemed to resonate with everyone else. Why wasn’t the pitcher who intended harm on another person immediately ejected for his reckless behavior? True, he goes home tonight with a big L in his loss column, and I’m guessing his teammates weren’t too happy with this act that clearly sparked the best kind of retaliation from the Yankees — a really good win.

So back to the game, Rodriguez is on 1st base, hit by Ryan Dempster, then advances to 3rd on Curtis Granderson’s double, and scores on Eduardo Nunez’s single. Granderson scores on Lyle Overbay’s sacrifice fly. In the 3rd inning, Rodriguez grounds out but scores Ichiro Suzuki. Now going into the 6th inning, the Yankees are trailing Boston 6-3.

So in another form of excellent retaliation, Rodriguez hits a really solid home run deep into the center field seats. But they’re not done yet, Nunez (later replaced by Jayson Nix due to a tight hamstring) and Overbay each single and Chris Stewart walks to load the bases, and then they all score on Brett Gardner’s amazing triple. The score is now 7-6, and the Yankees never lose that lead again.

Into the 7th inning, Rodriguez singles but gets out on Granderson’s force out. Granderson then scores on a single by Mark Reynolds (in to replace Overbay). Now 8-6 Yankees. (It should be noted that more Boston pitchers hit New York batters — Gardner took one in the 8th and both Nix and Cano in the 9th. I don’t think any of those were intentional, but I’m guessing more than egos are going to be bruised after tonight’s game. Though I should also note that a wild pitch by a Yankee batter accidentally hit the home plate umpire in his upper chest, pretty hard. No Boston batters were harmed intentionally or unintentionally, however, which kind of proves my point of the best kind of retaliation.) Anyway, in the 9th inning, Nix is hit by a pitch, advances to 2nd on a wild pitch, steals 3rd, and glides right into home on Stewart’s single, setting the final score of 9-6 Yankees.

And as if to cap tonight’s messiness, ESPN (tonight’s broadcaster) named Rodriguez the “Player of the Game”, which he honestly deserves. He went 3-for-4, with a home run, scoring 2 of the Yankees’ 9 runs, and earning 2 RBIs. He also handled some really great plays at 3rd base.

Before the game, there was a lot of talk about the recent developments in his case, personally and professionally. And there seems to be quite a bit of miscommunication all over the place. And while I do believe that Dempster intended to hit Rodriguez (and I’m clearly not alone in that opinion), I think it actually did quite the opposite of what he wanted it to do. It got Girardi (and several teammates) to publicly defend Rodriguez, it stirred up normally unbiased (or even slightly anti-Yankee biased) broadcasters to sort of “root for” him, it certainly swayed public opinion (outside of the 37,000 at Fenway) at least for tonight, and it seemed to challenge both Rodriguez and the Yankees to push for the win and succeed brilliantly.

In fact, I think the only people solidly against Rodriguez tonight after that 2nd inning bedlam were most of the Boston fans in the stadium tonight and a handful of long-term online haters. Perhaps they feel justified in their booing and jeering, but the sentiment outside of the game seems to be “how can you cheer someone who intends to do harm on another person?” It doesn’t matter who the recipient of the harm is. This isn’t the Wild West where vigilante justice was the way of life. We live in a society of laws and morals and ethics that protect us from such antics. What pained me the most was seeing small children “get in” on the hatred. Is this what we teach the next generation? That hatred is not only acceptable but encouraged? No matter what he’s done or not done, or who he is at the end of the day, there is never any call for physical harm or outright hatred and anger. Positive things change the world; negative things destroy it. Be the change in your world, not its destruction.

Go Yankees!

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