It was the walk heard around the world. In the eighth inning of last night's game, Marlins reliever Sam Dyson really did not want to be a part of baseball history. In fact, he seemed to do whatever he could to try and avoid it.
The right hander had just walked Chase Headley after a seven-pitch at bat and Alex Rodriguez was about to step into the batter's box for a second shot at his 3000th hit. Rodriguez had hit a ball on the screws in his previous at bat but it floated in the air and landed in the glove of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. And at that point, almost everyone figured we'd have to wait until Friday for the big hit to happen. Then the Yankee batters made the seventh inning last a little longer after Carlos Beltran's two-run shot put them up 5-3 which set up the dramatic moment in the eighth. Rodriguez would come to the plate, once again, sitting on hit #2,999.
All eyes were on the field. The entire crowd was on its feet, phone cameras were ready to film and/or take pictures and everyone held their breath hoping they would be a witness to yet another in a long list of Yankee milestones, but Sam Dyson didn't allow that to happen.
He essentially threw the same pitch four times - a very hard two-seam fastball with some late movement that tailed in toward A-Rod. For a moment, it almost looked like a repeat of the Ryan Dempster incident of August 18, 2013, only this time with every pitch coming close to hitting Alex but just missing him.
The first pitch was 97.8 mph and the second was 97.2, but by the third pitch, which registered 98.7 on the radar gun, it was clear that Dyson wasn't going to give Rodriguez anything to hit and he walked him on four pitches which enraged the crowd of over 38,000 people.
Here's the strike zone plot courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
It was a sight to behold, and to listen to, as very loud chants of "Asshole!" rained down from the decks and continued well into Mark Teixeira's at bat. The chant then changed to "You suck!" as Dyson seemed to fall apart, even throwing a wild pitch that allowed A-Rod to score later in the inning.
Was it karmic retribution? Possibly. Was it fun to watch unfold? Oh yes, very. Especially after the Yankees squandered so many scoring chances before the eighth inning.
The most peculiar thing about Dyson's at bat to A-Rod was that he had just walked Headley and his team was only down two runs. If he escapes the inning unscathed, it gives the Marlins a chance to get back into the game in the top of the ninth. After he walked A-Rod, there were two runners on with no outs. And while Tex lined out, Brian McCann followed with a single to score Headley to put the Yankees up 6-3. Then everything completely unraveled for Dyson as he threw the wild pitch to score A-Rod and Chris Young hit a double to score McCann. He was taken out but was still responsible for Young who scored on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly to make it 9-3.
After the game, Dyson claimed he didn't hear what the crowd was chanting which is bo(a)ld faced lie. You could probably hear that chant all the way in Connecticut and the fans in attendance said the volume of the chants reminded them of being at the old Stadium. And when Dyson was told what they had said, he responded with, "Bring it."
Can you believe it? Rodriguez's redemption tour has reached such a fever pitch now that the same people who more than likely booed him on Opening Day are now screaming obscenities at an opposing pitcher for screwing up his chance of reaching a major hitting milestone. And yes, I'm sure some of it was the fact that they wouldn't be seeing it in person but people don't usually get that angry and sound like a vociferous mob for the players they don't care about.
As for hit #3000, we will have to wait another day but the fans going to tonight's game have a pretty good chance of seeing history because thanks to a rain out in Cincinnati, Alfredo Simon is no longer starting for Detroit and Justin Verlander is starting instead. Now, you may be thinking, "But it's Justin Verlander!" Well, Alex Rodriguez has pretty good numbers in his career against Verlander. Rodriguez is a .294/.415/.676 /1.091 hitter with four home runs and 11 RBI against the righty. He also has six walks and six strikeouts.
Of course, if Alex is 0-4 with four strikeouts tonight, you can blame me. I won't mind.