Alex Rodriguez is at war with the New York Yankees, or at least their upper management. Yet on Aug. 18, Rodriguez got support from his actual Yankee teammates and manager, once Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster plucked him in the second inning. Afterwards, Rodriguez repaid New York with a home run that triggered a sixth inning rally and a 9-6 win in Boston.
After a weekend of accusations between Rodriguez’s camp and Yankees personnel over his injury treatment, things finally got heated on the field. Dempster triggered it by brushing Rodriguez on his first pitch in the second, then waited until the count got to 3-0 to hit his back. When he wasn’t ejected for it, New York manager Joe Girardi exploded and got ejected himself.
The Yankees and Red Sox benches were warned, yet there was every expectation that there would be escalation. However, the real payback took place without anyone getting hit. With the Yankees down by 6-3 in the sixth, Rodriguez blasted a long solo home run off of Dempster, which fueled New York from there.
Dempster then loaded the bases before being taken out, only for the Red Sox to give up the lead on Brett Gardner’s bases-clearing triple. The Yankees pushed the lead to 9-6 before Mariano Rivera came on for what may be the last time in Fenway Park -- and the first time since blowing three straight saves last week. Despite letting two men on with two outs, Rivera didn’t break and finally got his 36’th save in his farewell season.
Yet the big story was Rodriguez as usual, although some of his headlines came from his play for once. His 3-for-4 night was his most productive since coming back, as the home run served as the 649’th of his career. In addition, he sparked a win that gave the Yankees a series victory in Fenway this weekend.
New York can’t afford to lose many more series, especially to teams it is chasing. With the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles looming in the next two weekends, along with two seemingly easier series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees will have a better idea of where they really stand by the end of August. If they can keep tuning out Rodriguez off the field and keep him productive in the field, they might have something to play for in September after all.