On this date in 2013, a game played under the cloud of controversy provided a nostalgic feeling of what Red Sox/Yankees games are supposed to feel like.
In the rubber match of a three game series at Fenway Park, the Yankees squared off against the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. The Yankees were playing through the dog days of August with little hope of making the playoffs, entering the game with a 64-59 record. On the other side of the diamond were the Red Sox, who would end up winning the division and the World Series that year. On paper, these two teams didn’t really match up as rivals based on their records. Still, the night would provide some “fireworks” courtesy of Ryan Dempster and Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod was surrounded by controversy on multiple fronts. It was announced on Aug. 5 that year that he would be suspended for the following 2014 season for his part in the Biogenesis steroid scandal, and he didn’t make his season debut until the day his suspension was announced due to offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
Things get heated
The Yankees had their ace, CC Sabathia, on the hill while the Red Sox countered with Ryan Dempster (known only for his Harry Caray impersonation). The Red Sox got out to a two run lead in the bottom of the first inning but the drama would start in the top of the second.
Leading off the inning was Rodriguez, and the first pitch Dempster threw to A-Rod was behind him in an obvious effort to hit him. The next two pitches were balls giving way to a 3-0 count. Dempster then decided to make good on his effort from the first pitch and drilled Rodriguez right above the elbow.
Dempster wasn’t tossed despite his obvious attempts to throw at someone. Instead, home plate umpire Brian O’Nora pointed at Dempster before warning both benches. Of course, Joe Girardi wasn’t going to just let one of his players get hit without the possibility of retribution so he decided to let O’Nora have it, and was rewarded with an ejection for his efforts. The Yankees would end up tying the game before the inning was over but the “A-Rod vs Dempster” storyline still had some juice.
Leading up to the sixth inning, the Red Sox managed to grab a 6-3 lead with Dempster still remaining in the game. Similar to the second inning, A-Rod would lead off the top of the sixth. On a 1-0 pitch, Rodriguez took an 89 MPH fastball planted it in centerfield seats.
It was only a solo shot but you can tell by A-Rod’s reaction that there was still some fire left in this team, at least for the rest of this game. Later in the inning, the Yankees would load the bases for Brett Gardner who would deliver with a bases-clearing triple to give the Yanks a 7-6 lead. The Yankees would tack on two more runs before handing Mariano Rivera a three run lead in the ninth where he sealed the win and the series for the Yanks.
The 2013 (and 2014) season was a season a lot of Yankees fans want to forget, or don’t care enough to remember. Multiple injuries and roster moves doomed that season before it even got started. For one night though, a player everyone loved to hate brought back some juice to rivalry that greatly needed it.