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Farnsworth pitch to Manny causes stir

Farnsworth pitch to Manny causes stir

NEW YORK -- Moments after a Kyle Farnsworth fastball whizzed behind Manny Ramirez's head on Thursday night, implications came raining down in the Bronx. And only yards away in the home dugout, Yankees manager Joe Girardi already had an explanation. This was a classic case of a hyped-up reliever trying to throw 100 mph, he said -- of a guy trying to cram too much adrenaline into one little pitch.

"I try to do that all the time," Farnsworth said. "That's part of my problem."

Both manager and reliever swore that the pitch, which nearly plunked Ramirez on his helmet, was not intentional. Ramirez's two home runs earlier in the game didn't prompt it, they said. It was a non-issue. Nothing to say. Barely even worth discussing.

The Red Sox, however, weren't so sure. Especially not after Wednesday night, when Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit a long home run, then five innings later took a David Aardsma pitch on his upper back. Baseball logic says payback might come.

"You know, we hit one of their best players last night, and I guess they want to send a message," Ramirez said. "They need to back up their players, and they did."

Entering the game to start the seventh inning, Farnsworth greeted the first batter he faced, Ramirez, with the fastball in question, before recovering to induce a groundout and retire the side in order. Yet the pitch held weight, especially after home-plate umpire Larry Vanover immediately warned both benches. Boston's retaliation seemed imminent.

It never came on this night -- not when captain Derek Jeter strode to the plate, nor even when Rodriguez batted in the eighth inning with two outs and the bases empty. That begs the question of when the Sox might answer. These two teams don't see each other again until July, though issues between them rarely just disappear.

"I didn't hit anybody today," Farnsworth said. "I'm sure there might be [a retaliation]. That's just the way the rivalry is. We'll just have to see what happens."

Farnsworth claimed the ball just "slipped," a product of his trying to pitch inside against arguable the game's hottest hitter. So how it ultimately might affect this rivalry remains to be seen, though the Sox, for their part, seemed more relieved than vengeful.

"I was just glad it didn't hit Manny, obviously," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Ninety-eight [mph] at your lips is going to hurt."

"I don't know if they were throwing at him or what," second baseman Dustin Pedroia added. "I just know that he throws hard. You never want to see that. I don't know if it was a statement, but you don't want it to hit him. He throws 100 mph, and that's career-ending if it hits him. I don't know."

For now, only Farnsworth knows. And if there was intent, he's keeping it a secret.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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