It sure looked like Ryan Dempster was trying to send a message to A-Rod with his first pitch to him on Sunday night. Red Sox fans cheered after that 89-mph fastball went behind Alex Rodriguez's knees in the second inning. With his fourth pitch in the at-bat, any message from Dempster was received. That fourth pitch plunked Rodriguez in the shoulder.
Fenway Park erupted. So did Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
As Rodriguez remained in the batter's box looking noticeably frustrated, the umpire walked toward the mound and warned both teams. Girardi stormed out of the dugout, screaming at the ump. The Yankees' manager also appeared to holler some obscenities at Dempster. Girardi was ejected while both bullpens emptied.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Rodriguez stared at Dempster as he started toward first base.
The ESPN broadcasters and some in the media believed that Dempster intentionally plunked Rodriguez and should have been ejected as well.
"It was as intentional as it gets," ESPN's Curt Schilling said. "Umpires are given the leeway to eject on their own call. That was intentional and that's what you were supposed to do, is eject the pitcher and the manager together."
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On Thursday, another Red Sox pitcher griped about having to face Rodriguez despite his 211-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do,” Boston's John Lackey told The Boston Globe on Thursday. “How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right ... It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”
Was Dempster sending a message to Rodriguez and all PED-users?
UPDATE: In the sixth inning, Rodriguez got some payback and launched a 89-mph fastball to the seats in center field. The home run cut Boston's lead to 6-4.