Every game played between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees is played under a high-powered microscope, and just like specimens seen through the lens of a microscope, small things can end up magnified and blown out of proportion. Case in point is the first at-bat between Red Sox starting pitcher Dempster and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, wherein Dempster decided to engage in some pitcher vigilantism and punish Rodriguez for some perceived offense. The hoopla surrounding the hit by pitch event served to mask the fact that the game that ended with a 9-6 Yankees victory was a completely ordinary one.
The contest was ordinary in the sense that both offenses took advantage of the meager offerings of Dempster and Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Both Dempster and Sabathia have displayed less than stellar stuff all season, and their disappointing performances on Sunday night only further proved neither pitcher is that capable of holding an offense in check.
The Yankees collected nine hits, drew one walk, and benefited from the hit by pitch of Rodriguez to put 11 of the 27 batters who faced Dempster on base. Furthermore, three of the nine hits went for extra bases as the Yankees had no problems finding success against Dempster. For the contest, Dempster was charged with allowing seven earned runs in 5.3 innings as he continually set the table for the Yankees to score runs. All they did was graciously accept his gifts and turn them into productive hits.
The Yankees offense really started clicking in the second inning, starting with the inappropriate plunking of Rodriguez. In that inning, the Yankees went on to score two runs. One could make the claim that watching Rodriguez get hit motivated the Yankees hitters to try even more, but really, they were probably going to score a high number of runs against Dempster anyway. After all, Dempster has not pitched to a 4.77 ERA this season by accident.
More runs were added by the Yankees against Dempster in the third inning, thanks to a Rodriguez RBI groundout, and in the sixth inning when Rodriguez hit a towering solo home run off of Dempster. Rodriguez's home run could be considered revenge if it were not for the fact that Dempster has allowed such a high number of hitters to hit home runs off him. This season, 13.7 percent of the fly balls hit off Dempster have become home runs, which is a career high for him. Rodriguez was just doing what so many before him have done.
After the home run, Dempster went on to load the bases before being removed from the contest and then had to watch as relief pitcher Drake Britton gave up a three-RBI triple to Brett Gardner that scored the fifth, sixth, and seventh runs of the night for the Yankees.
The seventh run that scored, and for which Dempster was responsible, turned out to be the winning run. The Yankees went on to score additional runs in the seventh and ninth innings against the Red Sox bullpen for insurance purposes, but it was the success they had against Dempster that really won the game.
Sabathia tried to match Dempster's ineffectiveness during the contest, but he was unable to keep up with the mediocrity. Sabathia, too, only pitched 5.3 innings, but he was just the tiniest bit stingier, giving up six runs to the Red Sox. The former Yankees ace kept himself from matching Dempster's ERA by stranding base runners at a higher rate; Sabathia's left on base percentage for the contest was 56.6 percent to Dempster's 41.7 percent.
Not taking advantage of the 12 base runners, out of 28 batters faced, they had against Sabathia cost the Red Sox because the Yankees bullpen proved to be much stingier than the starting pitcher. Against the Yankees relievers, only four of 14 hitters reached base and none of them scored.
Both teams faced suspect pitching on Sunday, and scored a high number of runs because of it, but it was the Yankees offense that made more of their opportunities and won the contest. It was also the Yankees offense, helped along by Dempster, that sent the Red Sox to their fourth loss in five games, and that is a much more important story than the shenanigans of Dempster because it means the Red Sox now have just a slim 1.0 game lead in the American League East division.