Ryan Dempster decided he would be the one to send a message to Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night. He threw one behind A-Rod's legs and then plunked him on the left side on a 3-0 pitch to start the second inning.
Both dugouts and bullpens emptied but there was no brawl.
Amazingly, Dempster was not thrown out of the game by plate umpire Brian O’Nora, who instead issued warnings to both benches. That sent Yankees manager Joe Girardi into a rage and he was thrown out of the game.
Once warnings were given to both teams, that meant any CC Sabathia retaliation would result in him being tossed from the game. Sabathia retired the Sox in order in the second. The Yankees can ill afford to lose Sabathia this early with a thin bullpen.
Unfortunately for Dempster, the hit by pitch led to the Yankees scoring two runs. Curtis Granderson doubled, Eduardo Nunez singled him in, and Lyle Overbay’s sacrifice fly scored the tying run.
If the Red Sox lose this one, you have to question Dempster’s “message.”
It’s no secret that Rodriguez, never a popular player around baseball and even less so now with a 211-game suspension looming as he appeals, is now a bull's-eye for players who abhor the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Dempster is obviously one of them.
The crowd was certainly behind Dempster as they continue to boo Rodriguez every time he steps to the plate.
Rodriguez also made no motion toward Dempster, but was walked to first base by the Yankee trainer. A-Rod seemed completely bewildered by the chain of events.
What was interesting is that A-Rod did receive support from his teammates who left the dugout and the bullpen.