Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price must have had an unsettled score with the Red Sox when he plunked leadoff man Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts. Then, it was cleanup man David Ortiz who was next up on Price's "hit-list." Ortiz walloped a home run off of Price in Game 2 of last season's American League Divisional Series ... the Tampa Bay hurler took exception to that and acted on his grudge Friday.
Ortiz was pelted with a first-pitch fastball between the numbers and home plate umpire Ben Bellino issued warnings to both benches. Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell stormed out of the dugout to protest why Price was not ejected, and he got the hook. Price, not only was allowed to stay in the game, he was not among the list of suspensions as a result of the free-for-all that unfolded last Friday at Fenway Park. Pitchers and hitters have a general understanding that if one team's guy gets hit by a pitch, chances are retaliation is only a half inning away.
But, Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman was not only ejected for a curveball that floated wide and struck Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, he was suspended for three games. How does a reliever, who thumped one batter get ejected instantaneously?
But, Price is allowed to stay in the game? It's ludicrous, but it does make for a fun series to watch.
There has always been something special about the Red Sox and Rays rivalry.
Is it the David vs. Goliath payrolls? Maybe.
The Rays are the little brother of the always rumble tumble American League East.
Yes, Tampa Bay has had its share of winning seasons in recent history, but it still has not enjoyed the success of the Yankees and Red Sox.
It is understandable that the Rays feel they have something to prove. It's because they do.
The Boston and New York rivalry has become a little too tame for my liking as of late.
Not so many years ago, when a Red Sox player was traded or picked up in free agency by the Yankees, they were hated in Boston.
Such is not the case. Jacoby Ellsbury was greeted with a mixed bag of emotions when he returned to Fenway.
Heck, some casual fans might have forgot he wasn't with Boston anymore. The entire Tampa Bay and Boston series left a fire burning in my stomach, wondering what might happen next ...
On Monday night, John Lackey served up a home run to Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce in the first. Joyce grounded out in his second at-bat and Lackey jawed with the Rays player as he headed back to the dugout.
Joyce did not take kindly to what the Red Sox lefty said and the benches cleared.
No punches were thrown. No punches needed to be thrown, the Red Sox and Rays struck a chord with baseball fans searching for the newest chapter in classic sports rivalries.
Like in hockey with the Bruins and Canadians, the Red Sox and Rays do not like one another. However, the two teams have played against each other for a little over a decade. Given some more time, it can only get better.
Give me some more series like the Red Sox and Rays. Genuine, unforced hatred for one another. For diehard fans like myself, rivalries like Tampa Bay and Boston are good for the game.
Thirty-years from now, there will be books chronicling the beauty of this rivalry and the recent installments of tussles, rival that of Boston-New York.
Since the Rays and Red Sox first played each other in 2000, they have been involved in several dust-ups.
When you play a team several times a year, genuine disdain for one another is to be expected. Isn't drama the reason why we watch sports?
The Red Sox got the last laugh with a sweep of the Rays, but just think if Boston played with that same intensity for the remainder of the season ... It'd be nearly unstoppable.