Who would have thought Francisco Cervelli would be the new Yankee villain in this epic rivalry? Cervelli earned the ire of John Lackey when he clapped his hands at home plate after hitting a monster home run off the Red Sox pitcher. Anyone who watches Cervelli knows that he really does do the clap every time he gets on base. I’m not one who likes the excessive emotion these young players show, but that’s just part of Cervelli’s game.
I have to say, even if Lackey thought Cervelli was showing off, hitting him and putting him on base when his team was only down by two runs was both unprofessional and ill advised. Publicly the Red Sox players will probably have his back, but privately some of them are probably pissed that Lackey nearly started a brawl and once again painted a target on Red Sox hitters’ backs. Lackey claimed he wasn’t trying to hit Cervelli, but just pitching him inside. I believe that as much as I believe OJ Simpson really was innocent of murder.
The Red Sox hitters are lucky that CC Sabathia was done for the night after 128 pitches because one of them would have been going down (although I really doubt the Yankees ace is going to forgive and forget). Sabathia, who was fantastic in a truly gritty performance, is the one Yankees pitcher determined to protect his hitters (he has hit Red Sox players in retaliation a few times already). He was livid about his battery-mate, who he is incredibly fond of, getting hit intentionally by Lackey. If the game wasn’t so close, Sabathia probably would have begged Joe Girardi to let him go out to start the 7th inning, just so he could drill the first Red Sox hitter unfortunate enough to be due up.
So there were fireworks last night with the Yankees and Red Sox, just like the good old days. We haven’t seen sparks fly like this since Jason Varitek cowardly fought Alex Rodriguez while still wearing his catcher’s mask (take it off and take a punch like a man). For a moment, we were reminded that these teams used to really hate each other. I have to admit, it felt pretty damn good.