Fans cheered at Fenway Park when Ryan Dempster drilled New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez intentionally Sunday, but Dempster’s Boston Red Sox teammate, designated hitter David Ortiz, strongly disapproved of the purpose pitches.
“I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday of Dempster’s plunking of Rodriguez, who faces a 211-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. “But we don’t all think alike, and the guy who did it — Dempster — is a great guy.”
Ortiz, who admits being a close friend of Rodriguez “outside the white lines,” said his feelings about the incident had nothing to do with friendship or appearances. Rather, Ortiz took issue with opening the door for the Yankees to win the game and potentially become a factor in the American League East race.
“Once you cross the white lines, everyone’s on their own,” Ortiz said before Wednesday’s game at San Francisco. “But we’ve got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees’ team at that moment.
“You saw how the game ended up. CC Sabathia was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You’re talking about a good team that you can’t wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”
New York began last weekend’s series 9.5 games out of the AL East lead. Boston, 75-54, held a one-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays and was 5.5 games ahead of Baltimore with the Yankees now 6.5 back.
The Red Sox and Yankees play seven times in September, including a four-game series in New York Sept. 5-8.
Lackey likes Friday start
Pitcher John Lackey loves the way the schedule has played out this week. The veteran not only gets to pitch Friday night in Southern California, where he enjoyed so much success for the Los Angeles Angels, but also he gets to go up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arguably, no pitcher has performed better against the Dodgers in recent years than Lackey. He is 5-2 with a 1.89 in 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the National League club. That ERA ranks first among American Leaguers and fourth overall among all active pitchers with at least 50 innings logged against the Dodgers.
Back bothers Ortiz
DH/1B Ortiz returned to his old stomping grounds — first base — in two of the three games in Boston’s just completed series against the San Francisco Giants. Ortiz lasted only 4 1/2 innings Wednesday before complaining of lower-back spasms, something Red Sox manager John Farrell blamed on the wear and tear of a designated hitter playing in the field. The injury is not considered serious, but Farrell said he would think twice about having Ortiz play in the field more than just once in the team’s three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that begins Friday.
Middlebrooks plays second
Infielder Will Middlebrooks knew this day was coming. When the Red Sox promoted INF Xander Bogaerts this week, it left them without a proven backup second baseman. With Bogaerts, who has played mostly shortstop and third base in his career, likely to take at-bats away from Middlebrooks at third base, the slugger was anxious to prove he could get some of those at-bats back by spelling 2B Dustin Pedroia at times. He got opportunity late in Wednesday’s 12-1 romp over the San Francisco Giants and made the most of it, turning a double play and making a nice backhand stop behind second base. Farrell came away impressed and assured Middlebrooks, who homered earlier in the game, would get more chances to play second base moving forward.
Ellsbury likes interleague
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury wasted little time extending his interleague hitting streak to 18 games (15 this season) Wednesday, smacking LHP Barry Zito’s third pitch for a double in Boston’s 12-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. The speedy leadoff man is a remarkable 28-for-64 (.438) in interleague play this season, and 34-for-77 (.442) during his 18-game streak. Here’s something he does well against all teams: steal bases. He recorded his major league-leading 46th steal Wednesday.