For the Yankees, the ultimate payback for Alex Rodriguez getting thrown at by Ryan Dempster was him hitting a key home run in an eventual 9-6 win at Boston on Aug. 19.
As the games increase in urgency for the Yankees, who have 23 games to make up 2 1/2 games in the wild-card race, retaliation is hardly on anyone’s mind as the season enters the high noon portion.
The only difference is that the Yankees are the chasers and not the hunted like last season when Baltimore stalked them for most of the final month.
So about that retaliation?
Not going to happen at least based on the comments emanating from the Yankee clubhouse.
“No, we’re not looking to do that,” Robinson Cano said. “We’re just going to go out there tomorrow, play the game the right way that we have always been and what’s in the past we’re going to keep in the past.”
“Time is always good,” manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday. “I think we obviously know what is at stake. We have to go out and play the games and win the games. That is the most important thing. I think our guys know what is at stake.”
Last night marked the one-month anniversary of Rodriguez getting handed a 211-game suspension for his alleged PED use in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal. In the first two weeks with Rodriguez playing while appealing the ban the Yankees won seven of 13 games, going from 57-53 to 64-59.
That was a time when emotions were at their highest with John Lackey saying he didn’t think Rodriguez should be playing and Dempster seemingly reinforcing that sentiment with a purpose pitch that sent Girardi into a rage.
It was also at the peak of the “he said, she said” debate between Rodriguez and the Yankees. It was a weekend when general manager Brian Cashman conceded that his conversations with the third baseman, whom he famously told to “shut the f— up” in June, are limited to informal hellos. It also was a time when Rodriguez’s new lawyer Joe Tacopina went on the offensive against the Yankees and MLB.
Now when Rodriguez talks the conversation is only about baseball. He declared that to be the case Aug. 21 and the Yankees have won nine of the 14 games since.
“We’ve been fighting since the beginning of the year,” Mariano Rivera said. “We’ve been fighting with the team that we have. Now we have basically almost everybody back. We’re still fighting. We not giving up and just pushing and pushing and pushing. We’ll see if we can go that far.”
The ultimate retaliation for the Yankees is not a fastball at someone’s back but blowing one past a hitter or blowing one out of a ballpark.
“I think our guys understand that,” Girardi said. “I don’t expect there to be anything from Major League Baseball or the umpires. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to win.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.