Big Papi hit a three-run homer as the Boston Red Sox scored eight times in the first inning of a 10-3 win over Baltimore on Friday night. In the eighth, he whiffed on a few punches during a bench-clearing brawl with Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg(notes).
Ortiz and Gregg exchanged several wild punches, both coming close but not quite connecting in what could have turned into an even uglier scene as the benches and bullpens cleared for the second time in the inning.
“I think you show them that we’re not backing down. We’re not scared of them—them and their $180 million payroll,” said Gregg, who angered Ortiz with back-to-back inside pitches. “We don’t care. We’re here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here and we’re going to do everything we can to win.”
Gregg said he yelled at Ortiz for not running toward first on a popout, which apparently enraged Ortiz. Gregg, whose team was about to lose its fifth straight in another blowout, was ready when Big Papi charged.
“I was actually watching the ball and then you look down and there’s two humongous guys going at it,” Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia(notes). “In that situation you just try to support your teammates and you try to break it up. That’s pretty much it.”
Plate umpire Mike Estabrook immediately ejected Gregg when he started shouting—and Ortiz quickly changed course, charging toward the mound. Gregg and Ortiz each threw a few haymakers, but the heavyweight bout was swallowed up by the mass of players rushing onto the field.
“They’re going to whine and complain about it because they think they’re better than everybody else, but no, we have just as much right to pitch inside as they do. This is a team sport. I take offense to every run scored off every one of our pitchers. I take offense to every one of our hitters that’s hit every time I’m out there,” Gregg said. “You get tired of getting your butt kicked every night when you come in here and I’m going to stick up for what’s ours and try to get the plate back.”
It took more than 15 minutes to restore order and sort out the ejections. Gregg and Ortiz were tossed, as well as Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia(notes) and Baltimore reliever Jim Johnson(notes).
Ortiz did not speak to reporters after the game.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said he didn’t want to talk about who said what that set off the melee.
“It’s a game played by passionate men that care about what they’re doing and we’re kind of wounded right now. I’m sure he took some exception to swinging 3-0 there and I’m sure (Ortiz) took some exception to trying to pitch him in,” Showalter said. “It’s part of the game.”
The Orioles, who allowed 10 or more runs for the fourth time in five games, were flustered after the Red Sox sent 13 batters to the plate in the opening inning and tagged starter Zach Britton(notes) for seven earned runs on six hits and two walks. Ortiz hit a three-run shot.
It was Boston’s fourth straight win, and it extended Baltimore’s losing streak to five.
“It was tremendous. Those things don’t happen very often,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
The outburst of runs was plenty for Josh Beckett(notes) (8-3), who allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings. Beckett was having problems with the wet dirt on the mound after a steady rain fell early in the game and he didn’t return for the sixth. Having already lost another starter to the disabled list this week, the Red Sox were not risking Beckett’s health so close to the All-Star break.
The Red Sox said Beckett mildly hyperextended his left knee and removed him for precautionary reasons.
Beckett said he didn’t expect to miss the All-Star Game.
He was already in line for the win after Boston’s huge first inning, then Pedroia added a run in the sixth with a solo homer that was kept inside Fenway Park only by a sign above the left-field wall. Pedroia knocked one all the way out of the venue on Thursday in Boston’s 10-4 win.
Brad Bergesen(notes), who relieved Britton in the first, was knocked out of the game when he took a line drive from Ortiz off his pitching arm. The ball bounced hard off Bergesen’s right forearm and rolled quickly to the third base line.
Bergesen chased down the ball and walked back to the mound, but didn’t throw another pitch and headed back to the dugout with a trainer as right-hander Chris Jakubauskas(notes) was called in from the bullpen. The Orioles said Bergesen had a bruised right forearm.
It was that kind of night for the Orioles.
Boston already led 1-0 when Ortiz came to bat with two on and hit a shot well into the right-field seats on a 1-0 pitch.
NOTES: Yamaico Navarro(notes), an infielder who played both in left and right field in Triple-A this year, made his major league outfield debut Friday, playing left field. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he saw Navarro shagging fly balls during spring training and was impressed enough to know he’d be able to do it in the major leagues. … Baltimore OF Luke Scott(notes), placed on the disabled list earlier this week with a right (non-throwing) shoulder strain, had an MRI that showed no extensive damage. Showalter said Scott will receive a cortisone injection Monday and be on target to return from the DL at the end of his 15 days. … Boston 3B Kevin Youkilis(notes) was picked to replace ailing Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez(notes) on the AL All-Star roster.