Ramirez ejected after drilling A-Rod
Red Sox reliever plunks Yankees slugger in seventh inning
NEW YORK -- As if this rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox needed any more juice, Boston reliever Ramon Ramirez was ejected from Saturday's game after drilling Alex Rodriguez in the back with a fastball in the seventh inning -- leaving the Sox both shorthanded and scratching their heads.
"It stunned me," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after his club's 5-0 loss. "We're sitting there trying to keep the game close enough to where we can maybe do something where we can win. I just didn't understand the reasoning."
Already down by two runs with a runner on first base, Ramirez plunked Rodriguez with his first pitch of the at-bat, a 93-mph fastball that soared up and in. Almost immediately, home-plate umpire Jim Joyce ejected him, drawing Francona -- more confused than angry -- out of the visiting dugout.
Moments earlier, Ramirez had come close to hitting Mark Teixeira with a similar pitch. In the first inning, Rodriguez acted as if Sox starter Clay Buchholz had plunked him on an inside pitch that Joyce actually ruled a foul ball off his bat. And Thursday evening, Yankees reliever Mark Melancon drew Dustin Pedroia's ire after he hit the reigning AL MVP with a pitch in the eighth inning of a nine-run game.
But no warning had been issued at any point in the series before Ramirez was ejected.
"Yeah, I was surprised," Ramirez said through an interpreter. "I was just trying to go inside, trying to get a double play there, and the ball just went up and in. That's never happened to me before, getting thrown out of a game in a situation like that.
"It was worse because he didn't even give me a warning or anything like that. He just threw me out of the game."
Joyce said that he was not thinking about Melancon's pitch, or about any of the close calls in Saturday's game when he made the decision. Though he admitted to weighing the fact that Rodriguez had hit a walk-off home run in Friday night's game, Joyce said that Ramirez's location and velocity were the only factors that mattered.
"In my opinion, I thought that the pitch was intentional," Joyce said. "It was very high up on Rodriguez -- too close for comfort for me."
Rodriguez was not available for comment after the game.
In the visiting clubhouse, however, comments abounded. Francona's contention was that his team, losers of four straight coming in and in desperate need of some offense, had nothing to gain by hitting batters at that point in the game. The Red Sox had been counting on Ramirez to pitch two innings out of the bullpen. Instead, he faced three batters.
And so for most of his time on the field, Francona was stalling and mulling over exactly who was going to come into the game. After some deliberation, he selected his newest reliever, Enrique Gonzalez, who allowed three runs to score and effectively quelled Boston's chances at making a comeback.
"I think this series sometimes gets too much hype, and we have no ability to play the game," Francona said. "If guys get thrown out in that situation, we're going to have guys get thrown out probably three or four times a week. That was a hard one for me to understand."
And that was Francona's other contention -- that the quick ejection was more a product of the two teams playing than of the situation itself. It was a notion that Joyce did not entirely reject.
"You know what this series is like," he said. "It's a tough series. It's tough for everybody. It's tough for the Yankees, it's tough for the Red Sox, it's tough for the umpires."
Joyce insisted, however, that such hype did not sway his opinion.
"I don't read newspapers," he said. "I don't watch 'SportsCenter,' I just do what I have to do on the field. The hype is one thing -- it gets everybody juiced up. But me, Jim Joyce, I don't watch that stuff. I just go out and try to do my job the way that I'm instructed to do it."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who defended Melancon after Thursday's game, said that an ejection was the right route to take -- even though a warning had not been issued.
"I think it was probably a wise thing to do," Girardi said. "Not that we were going to do anything about it, but I think they just don't want anything to escalate.
"You want to be careful how you answer questions, because only the individual knows the intent. But we expected something to happen and I think it happened."
Because of those expectations, and because of the prospect of intervention from the league offices in New York, Joyce said that he and his crew would consider warning both benches prior to the start of Sunday's series finale.
That is hardly a common occurrence, however, and not one that Joyce entirely expected.
"If we believe that tensions have risen to the point that we feel that somebody's actually going to go out and intentionally go after somebody, we would put in a warning," Joyce said. "I'm going to be honest with you: I don't think we're at that point."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.