Any worries of a sweep of the season series in baseball’s biggest rivalry was squelched with a convincing 13-6 Yankee triumph on Thursday night.
The Bronx Bombers emphatically reinforced their moniker by launching four home runs into the night sky—though two of which would have been doubles in any other ballpark.
It was a feel good night for all Yankee fans watching from the Bronx and around the country, as an old-fashioned beatdown was being delivered without rubbing it in or acting like it had never happened before.
Things quickly changed in the top of the eighth inning, however, when Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia strolled to the plate in a 13-4 game.
Yankees reliever Mark Melancon proceeded to throw a 94 MPH fastball directly over Pedroia’s head—successfully crossing one of the most respected lines in Major League Baseball.
To make matters worse, Melancon then reiterated and stressed his intent by drilling the Sox leadoff hitter with the next pitch in his shoulder blade.
Hitters can, in most cases, understand being buzzed off the plate or thrown at when riding a hot streak—so long as all fastballs are kept from the rib cage to the cleats.
Melancon not only abused that unwritten rule twice, but also did so in a blowout win. It added insult to injury, and attacked a respected hitter who has absolutely no previous incidents with the ball club.
Pedroia’s hit by pitch was unprovoked and unnecessary, and added a new wrinkle to the rest of the 2009 season (as if the Youkilis-Chamberlain angle wasn’t heated enough already).
Entering Thursday’s game, Pedroia was just 8-for-31 (.258) with 0 HR and 1 RBI against New York in eight games. Is one opposite field gift home run now worthy of a head-hunting heater?
An old adage clearly states that one should “let sleeping dogs lie,” which is exactly what the Red Sox were. They were a struggling team looking for a spark; looking for a catalyst for a rallying cry.
Josh Beckett and the Red Sox will be out for blood tonight in the series’ second game. A fiery and borderline psychotic competitor when toeing the rubber, Beckett will not allow his MVP to be head-hunted twice without retribution.
The rest of the team will undoubtedly rally behind their gutsy and hard-nosed sparkplug, ensuring that revenge is packaged and sent with a bow to the home team’s clubhouse.
How will Yankee fans respond if their captain and fellow “leader by example” is drilled in Friday’s contest—perhaps suffering a broken bone on his hand?
What if recent Red Sox killer and white hot slugger Mark Teixeira (.343 AVG, .477 OBP, 4 HR) is sent to the trainer’s room with an elbow swollen up like Angelina Jolie’s lips?
Yankees Universe could not spend even one second yelling at the television set or calling for a bench-clearing brawl, because the Red Sox sadly would have done nothing wrong.
The “eye for an eye” retaliation method in MLB has a history as storied as the game itself, and the Yankees unfortunately chose the wrong method of message-sending.
Before hopping onto the couch to watch Game Two tonight, or popping the first potato chip into your mouth, please remember to take a second to say a prayer for the Yankee lineup.
Repent for the bullpen’s actions and ask for forgiveness from the baseball gods. Request that retribution leaves a Yankee star bruised but not disabled—making sure that he does not miss any important games in order to heal.
First instincts may understandably promote slurs, yells, curses, and jeers, but we have to try to remember one important factor: Mark Melancon (and possibly Joe Girardi) asked for this.
Cross your fingers and hold your breath, because tonight might be a bumpy ride.