BOSTON (AP)—The New York Yankees are trying to break another one of baseball’s unwritten rules, the one that says a double-digit deficit on Memorial Day is insurmountable.
One game after Alex Rodriguez offended some baseball purists by distracting a fielder during a popup, the Yankees built on that victory by beating the Red Sox 9-5 on Friday and climbing out of the AL East cellar. No longer tied for last with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, New York still trails Boston by 12 1/2 games.
“I think we need to be a little more fiery,” said New York manager Joe Torre, who was ejected for arguing a caught stealing in the fifth and was joined by reliever Scott Proctor after his errant pitch in the ninth—the fifth hit batter of the game—cleared the benches and bullpens.
“I think we showed fight tonight. We need to assert ourselves … just get that determination back,” Torre said. “I hope we can build on this because we’re good. We’re much better than we’ve been playing, but obviously the results haven’t shown.”
Jorge Posada had a pair of doubles, including a three-run shot to cap a six-run rally that broke a fourth-inning tie. Rodriguez reached base three times and scored twice despite the mockery of a Fenway crowd that—with the division race apparently in hand—had no place else to direct its longstanding anger.
Chien-Ming Wang (4-4) scattered 10 hits and two walks over 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs while striking out one to win for the third time in four starts.
Tim Wakefield (5-6) lasted 3 2-3 innings—the shortest outing for a Red Sox starter this year—and saw his ERA balloon from 3.36 to 4.24. He gave up eight runs on five hits with six walks, a wild pitch and a hit batsman while striking out two.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone into any game thinking, ‘Well, we’re due for a clunker,”’ Boston manager Terry Francona said. “It just kind of happens that way some times.”
Torre was ejected for arguing when Bobby Abreu was caught trying to steal third in the fifth. The Yankees already led 9-3; (there’s supposed to be an unwritten rule about stealing with a big lead, too).
The otherwise emotionless game boiled over with two outs to go when Proctor, who’s already been suspended once this season for pitching inside, dusted Kevin Youkilis and he made a move toward the mound. The benches emptied, Proctor was ejected, and the fans who remained began their traditional anti-Yankees chant.
“That didn’t look like (a last-place team) tonight,” Youkilis said. “I don’t think the New York Yankees are ever a last-place team. They have too much potential.”
The start was delayed 25 minutes to honor Boston’s 1967 AL championship team, and it crawled its way to a finish more than four hours after the scheduled first pitch. Even the Boston fans’ glee over A-Rod’s personal and professional crises couldn’t keep them in their seats that long, and few stuck around for the end.
Among them was a contingent of a few dozen in the seats near the New York dugout that pulled on masks of a woman with blonde hair, a reference to the woman photographed with Rodriguez last weekend at a Toronto hotel. In a front-page story on Friday, the New York Post reported she is a former Las Vegas stripper.
“The fans thought about what they were going to do all day instead of enjoying the beautiful weather,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “If that floats their boat, so be it.”
The fans also mocked A-Rod’s antics in Toronto, when he yelled—“Mine!” or “Hah!” depending on whom you believe—at Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark on an easy popup that then dropped in for a hit. The Yankees earned three runs and Toronto’s ire because of the play.
At Fenway, the crowd berated the Yankees at every infield fly, shouting at Rodriguez as he camped under Drew’s popup short of third base in the second inning. Rodriguez caught it and threw it to a fan as he left the field, but the fan threw it back.
Rodriguez, who was not available for comment after the game, didn’t let it bother him.
He walked in the second and singled in the third. He was nicked by a pitch in the fourth and scored from first on Posada’s double. He also saved a run with the game tied 3-all in the third when he fielded a grounder and threw home to catch Doug Mirabelli in a rundown.
Youkilis singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 23 games. … Lowell left after being hit by a pitch on his wrist. Drew went out with a right hamstring strain and was replaced in right field by Wily Mo Pena in the top of the sixth inning. … Yankees DH Jason Giambi went on the 15-day disabled list with torn tissue in his left foot. The Yankees also sent right-hander Matt DeSalvo to Scranton Wilkes-Barre and called up righty Chris Britton and outfielder Kevin Thompson from the Triple-A club. … Youkilis had 45 hits in May, second in the AL to the 46 by Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki. He extended his hitting streak to 23 games. … Wakefield has 17 walks against the Yankees in three starts this season. He has allowed 23 runs in his last four starts after giving up nine runs in his first seven starts.