The injury news of the day for the Yankees had not been good, and the ninth inning seemed poised to deliver another cruel blow in a season full of them.
Aaron Hicks’ first homer as a Yankee, a long blast to rightfield on Rick Porcello’s first pitch of the seventh inning, had given the Yankees a 3-2 lead over the Red Sox. But the Yankee-killer of Yankee-killers stood at the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, and David Ortiz promptly got ahead of Andrew Miller 3-and-1.
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Miller threw a strike that Ortiz thought was a score-tying ball and — after John Farrell got thrown out by plate umpire Ron Kulpa while trying to keep his designated hitter in the game — Ortiz took strike three.
After a retreat to the dugout, Ortiz was ejected and came barreling out to confront Kulpa. When order was restored, Miller struck out Hanley Ramirez to give the Yankees — who put CC Sabathia on the disabled list earlier in the day and lost Jacoby Ellsbury to injury earlier in the game — a 3-2 victory on a damp, 50-degree night at the Stadium.
“My heart’s still racing,” said Miller (sixth save). He later added: “I like to think I can get out of any situation. I feel like I’ve got the pitches and I can execute the pitches to get anybody at any time if I’m capable.”
Ortiz already had homered in the game against Michael Pineda, a two-run shot in the first that made it 2-0. It was the 50th homer of Ortiz’s career against the Yankees (10-17) and his 10th in the last 27 games against them.
“It’s tough,” Joe Girardi said of the situation Miller faced. “But I believe in Andrew Miller the way they believe in David Ortiz. He got him today.”
Ortiz and the Red Sox, not surprisingly, saw it differently.
They were particularly angry about the 3-and-1 pitch, a sharp-breaking slider that crossed up Brian McCann. He caught the ball poorly, making the pitch, which wound up low and away, look even worse than it was. “I was expecting a heater,’’ McCann said, “and it was a slider.”
Said Ortiz: “Look at that entire at-bat; everything was a ball. Even the one I swung at was a ball.”
Kulpa told a pool reporter that he agreed that the way McCann caught the ball “didn’t help me out” but added, “The pitch still came through the zone. And the 3-2 pitch, I had it in the zone right down the middle.”
Miller certainly wasn’t apologizing after the Red Sox got an infield single, a blooper and a broken-bat single in the inning to load the bases.
“What else do they want to go their way in an inning?” Miller said. “They can’t have it all.”
The Yankees haven’t had much go their way this season, a good deal of that their own making, but not all.
On the injury front, they’ve taken some hits in recent days. On Wednesday, Alex Rodriguez went to the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain, and yesterday, CC Sabathia landed there with a left groin strain.
Ellsbury then left in the second inning Friday night with tightness in his right hip. The injury occurred after he stole third in the first inning and rounded the base when the ball got away from catcher Christian Vazquez.
“He’s got a little strain in his hip muscle,” Girardi said of what an MRI showed. “He’s day-to-day. My guess is it will be [at least] a couple days.”