During Friday night’s New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game, starting pitcher Josh Beckett hit Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter in the big eight run Yankee fifth inning. He also came close to Mark Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli in that same inning.
After Jeter’s plunking, I texted the guys from the Shore Sports Report , where I do a baseball analyst radio spot every Friday, saying that “Pedroia needs to get plunked.”
And when I saw various Yankees, including CC Sabathia, mouthing their displeasure towards Beckett, I knew that Pedroia was going to be a target.
It is nothing against Dustin. He is a prototypical baseball player, always hustling, frequently getting dirt on his uniform. Pedroia is the type of guy you want playing for your team. It is just that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is a boring target who usually gets out of control when he feels like he is being thrown at.
Look what he did last season to Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello.
Since the Yankees second baseman was hit in Friday night and had to leave the game, it had to be THEIR second baseman who was retaliated against, plus Pedroia would take it like a man.
Josh Beckett is an easy guy to dislike. He never smiles, and does not seem pleasant to be around. I spend some time down in South Florida and heard various stories about him, too, when he used to play for the Florida Marlins.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. And he is very overrated. He has parlayed three good seasons (and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein’s rash judgment) into a new four-year, $68 million contract.
Not only is Beckett not pitching well this season, but come three/four years from now, Beckett’s contract will be viewed as one of the worst contracts in baseball. A dead weight contract which will further tie down the Red Sox.
But Beckett was throwing the baseball very well Friday night, at least for five innings. That is why it was incredible he would hit two guys, and come close to two others.
Not that I think the Cano plunking was intentional, because after Alex Rodriguez’ sixth inning leadoff double, the last thing Beckett wanted to do was put another runner on base with no outs and the Yankees already leading 3-1.
But I did believe Beckett hit Jeter on purpose, and tried to get Teixeira two batters later. He also dusted Cervelli just before Jeter’s HBP. At that point the score was 5-1 Yankees and it looked to me that Beckett had given up.
So why not hit Jeter? Beckett had given up, saying to the Yankees, “You beat me and all I can do is hit your players.”
That was wrong because pitchers should never intentionally hit batters for doing well against them, but only for showing up a team/player or in retaliation.
That is why Pedroia needed to get plunked by Sabathia. But after it was over, Pedroia ran hard to first base, taking it like a baseball player, seeming to know it was coming. However, the next batter, Victor Martinez, hit a two-run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
The plunking hurt on the scoreboard, but the message was sent.
I also was not the least bit worried after the home run, as the Yankees were getting guys on base and it was a matter of time before they started knocking those runners home. Also, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was off his usual game.
I wrote a piece last year about Yankee manager Joe Girardi changing the Yankees mindset regarding protecting their hitters . For too many years Joe Torre let the Red Sox pitchers have a field day in hitting the Yankee lineup. Red Sox manager Terry Francona had no problem letting it happen, either.
Too many times Pedro Martinez would bean Jeter and others, and nary a Yankee pitcher would come close to dusting David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez.
But Girardi has changed that tune and will not let the plunking of Yankee hitters go unpunished. Neither will Sabathia.
And that is good to see.