Nothing like a good old Friday night battle in the American League East.
And when I say battle, I mean it almost literally.
Oh yes, the benches cleared in Boston on after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales drilled the Rays Luke Scott in the lower leg — on the fourth attempt, the first sailed behind Scott and the next two just missed inside. This, apparently a continuation of some bad blood that brewed last Thursday in Tampa after Adrian Gonzalez guaranteed a home run against Rays pitching.
As their official response, Tampa's Matt Moore plunked Gonzalez in his first plate appearance on that night. Later in the game, Luke Scott was hit by a Felix Doubront offering, which may indicate Boston has selected him as their primary retaliation target after he made comments running down Red Sox fans back in February.
Both of those incidents were fresh in everybody's mind as the teams took the field Friday night. And then when Dustin Pedroia was hit by reliever Burke Badenhop in the sixth, you had the sense a receipt was coming sooner or possibly later in the weekend. It just happened to be sooner, as in Scott's ninth inning plate appearance.
Then both sides flooded the field and congregated behind home plate with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, coach Tim Bogar, and Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez among the most visibly upset.
Fortunately, no punches were thrown, and since no warnings had been issued, there were no ejections. After a good three minutes of soft shoves and yelling , the scene was cleared up and the game resumed with the Rays winning it 7-4.
Now it'll be interesting to see how Major League Baseball interprets the actions of all involved. You have to imagine Morales stands a good chance for some kind of punishment, because his intentions were clear. They'll probably take a good look at Scott's reaction as well to find a reason to fine him.
But more interesting than that will be how these two teams will manage the tension the rest of this weekend series. I guess you'll just have to stay tuned to find out those answers. I know I will be.
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