Batting behind Curtis Granderson is starting to get a little dangerous.
For the second game in a row, a home run by the Yankees centerfielder was soon followed by a teammate rolling on the ground after being hit by a pitch. This time, Alex Rodriguez was plunked just below his hip by a Mitch Talbot fastball in the sixth inning, prompting home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna to eject Talbot before the Indians starter could even look up from examining the rain-soaked mound he claimed to have slipped off.
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Unlike Friday night's incident when Fausto Carmona hit Mark Teixeira in the back and caused the benches to clear and the managers from the two teams to jaw at each other on the infield grass, there was no immediate anger from the Yankees. Their concern was for Rodriguez, who remained on the dirt for a few moments. But afterward, several of them postulated that the pitch might have had a little meaning, especially since Rodriguez had homered to left in his previous at-bat against Talbot.
"Fishy," was the word used by both Rodriguez and Joe Girardi.
Asked if he thought Rodriguez was hit on purpose, as he believes he was in the previous game, Teixeira smirked.
"It's not for me to say," he said, "but crazy coincidence."
Replays seemed to show that Talbot did catch a spike on the dirt as he delivered the pitch to Rodriguez. He tried to explain that to Iassogna, who had not issued any warnings to either side.
"He said 'You slipped at the wrong time,' " Talbot said of the response from the umpire. He said he took that to mean that it followed Rodriguez's previous homer.
"I also didn't like what I was hearing back," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Iassogna's explanation. "He slipped at the [wrong] time? So when is the right time to slip? With anybody else at the plate?"
Talbot threw 52/3 innings and allowed four hits and two runs on the homers. He walked two and struck out four, including Rodriguez in the first.
Iassogna told a pool reporter after the game that the recent history between the two teams was cause for the quick ejection.
"After the situation we had [Friday] night, and Alex hit a big home run [Friday] night and hit another home run today, and Curtis Granderson hit a home run [Friday] night and another one today, he threw the pitch directly at him," Iassogna said.
Rodriguez was the eighth Yankee to be hit by a pitch in the last five games.
"It's just the form we're getting hit, obviously it's a little fishy," Rodriguez said. "Guys are going deep and then pitchers are shaking two or three times to get to the fastball in, and we're getting smoked."
"I'm tired of it," Girardi said. "Our guys get hit entirely too much. We're a club that hits home runs and people don't necessarily like that, but I've always said, a run's a run."
Talbot said that if Teixeira had not been hit Friday night, he would not have been ejected for hitting Rodriguez. The pitcher who set all of this up, Carmona, spoke with reporters for the first time Saturday through interpreter and bullpen catcher Francisco Morales. Carmona said that Teixeira had been diving over the plate at the steady diet of outside pitches he had thrown him over the years and he tried to come inside.
Saturday, it was Rodriguez's turn to feel the sting of success against the Indians.
"I'm not sure if it was intentional," Rodriguez said, explaining that the pitch hit the IT band of his quadriceps. "I do know it hurt like hell."