Rodriguez, who continues to play while appealing a 211-game drug suspension from Major League Baseball, barely avoided being struck in the leg by the first pitch he faced last night from Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster.
As the Fenway crowd chanted “You’re a cheater,” Rodriguez was thrown two more inside pitches before getting hit in the left side by a fastball. The home plate umpire issued warnings to both teams while Yankees manager Joe Girardi ran out of the dugout and was ejected after a heated argument. He later said Dempster should have been thrown out of the game.
“Everyone knows it was intentional,” Girardi said. “And then to give us a warning? That was wrong. I thought it was handled very poorly.”
Rodriguez went to first base without incident, though some players from both teams came onto the field, with the Yankees’ Brett Gardner among those who had to be restrained. It was the 17th time Rodriguez has been hit by a Red Sox pitcher since joining the Yankees in 2004, five more times than any other player in the majors, according to ESPN.
“It was a little bit odd, obviously a weird situation there,” Rodriguez said in a televised interview. “But the game has a way of policing itself. Our guys were fired up and every single one of those guys came up to me and said, ‘Hit a bomb and walk it off.’”
Rodriguez, 38, struck a solo homer in the sixth inning off Dempster over the centerfield fence, cutting the Yankees’ deficit to 6-4. Rodriguez pointed both fingers to the sky and yelled as he stepped on home plate.
Brett Gardner then added a three-run triple to put the Yankees ahead for good.
The Yankees improved to 64-59 and are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East. Boston’s lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays was cut to one game, while the Baltimore Orioles are 4 1/2 games back.
Rodriguez’s lawyers contacted the MLB Players Association within the past two weeks in a potential first step for filing a grievance into claims the Yankees mishandled his medical treatment, ESPN reported before the game.
Rodriguez returned to the Yankees’ lineup earlier this month after missing 110 games while rehabilitating from offseason hip surgery and then what was diagnosed by the Yankees’ doctor as a mild quadriceps strain. The Yankees have repeatedly disputed claims from Rodriguez’s lawyers.
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