BOSTON - Heavens, no. Ryan Dempster said he was not throwing at Alex Rodriguez when he plunked him in the left elbow in the second inning of the Yankees' 9-6 victory over the Red Sox Sunday night at Fenway Park -- after the first pitch of the at-bat went behind A-Rod's legs.
"No," Dempster said when asked if he was throwing at A-Rod. "I was just trying to pitch inside."
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Does he have a problem with A-Rod? "No," Dempster said.
Does he think A-Rod should be playing while he appeals his 211-game suspension?
"Yeah, I guess there's an appeal process, so that will take place," Dempster said.
Dempster certainly seemed to be throwing at Rodriguez. Plate umpire Brian O'Nora must have thought it was more than just a pitch inside. He stormed out from behind the dish and warned Dempster and both benches that any more "inside pitches" would result in immediate ejection.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi definitely thought it was more than just a pitch inside. He ran out of the dugout like George Brett in the Pine Tar Game and upbraided O'Nora for not tossing Dempster out of the game. Girardi was ejected for his views.
Rodriguez got his revenge on Dempster with a sixth-inning home run to dead center to jump-start the Yankees' four-run rally from a 6-3 deficit. Rodriguez was quite demonstrative as he rounded the bases -- clapping his hands and shouting as he rounded first, shouting some more as he rounded third and stopping at home plate and pointed toward the sky in exaggerated fashion.
"I knew he got it when he hit it," Dempster said. "I'm sure any time any hitter gets hit by a pitch, when you hit a home run the next time up, it always probably feels good. That's just reality. It was unfortunate because it started off the inning with a run. I'm trying to get the leadoff guy out there."
Dempster -- according to Dempster -- also was trying to get the leadoff guy out in the second inning, too, when A-Rod came up with the Yankees trailing 2-0.
The first pitch was down and behind A-Rod's legs. The sellout crowd of 37,917 was thrilled that Rodriguez nearly was hit. But Dempster said that wasn't his intent. Asked where that offering was supposed to go, Dempster said: "Down and in. Just a sinker down and in. I've watched a lot of video on a lot of guys and they were having success throwing the ball down there."
The next two pitches were balls inside before Dempster hit Rodriguez with the 3-and-0 pitch (a 92-mph fastball). It started a two-run rally as the Yankees tied the score at 2 before Boston battled back to take a 6-3 lead into the sixth.
Dempster left with the bases loaded and one out before Brett Gardner's three-run triple off Drake Britton gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead.
"I'm more disappointed in the fact I couldn't hold a 6-3 lead," Dempster said. "That's the bigger story."