The sunshine and rainbows that appeared above Fenway Park early Friday evening were not a sign of things to come. Instead, the the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays basically picked up where they left off last Sunday at Tropicana Field, with beanballs, bad blood and ejections ruling the early part of Boston's eventual 3-2 victory in 10 innings.
In fact, before the night was through, the Red Sox were forced to utilize four different acting managers, as regular skipper John Farrell, bench coach Torey Lovullo and third base coach Brian Butterfield were all ejected at various points. The latter two only after they moved to the lead chair.
It started again in the first inning when Rays starter David Price drilled David Ortiz square in the hip with a pitch that seemingly had intentions behind it. Home plate umpire Dan Bellino immediately warned both benches, which didn't sit well with Farrell. Farrell appeared to be upset that Price wasn't ejected on the spot for his perceived retaliation. Bellino disagreed and eventually tossed Farrell once the confrontation became heated.
Both teams remained in their respective dugouts as this situation unfolded, but were lined up on the top step in case it boiled over. Ortiz shot some glances toward Price on his way to first base but that was the extent of round one.
Round two came in the fourth inning when Price hit Mike Carp with two outs in the inning. This time the benches and bullpens cleared and the two teams came together in front of home plate. Ortiz was among the most heated and was visibly trying to get at Price, but there didn't appear to be any punches thrown or real physicality to speak of. Just a lot of anger and frustration, which only picked up on the Red Sox side after they learned Price was not ejected despite the earlier warnings. Lovullo was tossed after a lengthy argument with Benillo over that controversial matter.
Next in the managerial chair was Butterfield, but he didn't last long either. In the top of the sixth inning, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman was ejected for throwing behind Evan Longoria. By rule, the acting manager is also tossed when the umpire determines his warning has been violated, so Butterfield joined the procession to the clubhouse.
That left hitting coach Greg Colbrunn in the hot seat, and the fourth man in charge was able to manage his team to the victory.
It seems a little lopsided that Boston lost three acting managers and a player in all of the nonsense while Tampa Bay didn't lose anyone. Especially since Red Sox pitchers never actually hit a batter during Friday's game. It's all up to the umpire's discretion, though, so he obviously felt there was no intention behind Price's second hit batter. He also felt like Workman was sending a dangerous message to Longoria, so he reacted accordingly.
A possible twist though is the original incident that played out on Friday may have had little to do with the benches-clearing altercation that took place involving Jonny Gomes and Yunel Escobar only five days ago, but rather David Price's displeasure dating back to last postseason with David Ortiz. At that time, Price felt like Ortiz showed him up by admiring his two home runs during their ALDS, and wasn't shy about expressing those feelings with the media and on Twitter.
Either way, Ortiz was none too pleased about what happened Friday, and he says it happens again things will definitely get ugly.
Obviously there are many layers to the feud and many different battles within it, which makes the situation all the more combustible. Here's hoping both sides proceed with a little more professionalism throughout the rest of the weekend. Everybody's point has been made loud and clear. Now seems like a good time to move on and focus on baseball, because both teams are obviously in positions that don't reflect their talent level.
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