BOSTON - There were two outs in the ninth inning when Boston pitcher Franklin Morales threw a fastball behind the head of Luke Scott, the Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter. That was enough to send the Rays toward the end of the dugout where an opening afforded a quick entrance to the field should the need arise.
The need arose four pitches later when Morales hit Scott on the leg. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied as the always-simmering feud between these two American League East division rivals boiled over again.
What ensued was a typical baseball dustup with a lot of pushing and yelling and not one punch. No one was ejected and order was restored a few minutes later and the teams continued on with what became a 7-4 Rays victory at Fenway Park.
Matt Joyce hit his second grand slam in five games and Elliot Johnson and Carlos Peña hit back-to-back home runs, but the biggest blows of the night came after the game when Rays manager Joe Maddon swung for the fences in his postgame comments.
Maddon accused the Red Sox of being "carelessly incompetent," in starting a bench-clearing incident that was a "weak, cowardly effort on their part" and "reeks of intent."
"Quite frankly I think it was ridiculous, and I think it's absurd, idiotic, and all those different words," Maddon said.
Maddon questioned why Morales threw at Scott, even though Burke Badenhop hit Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the sixth inning and the Rays and Red Sox exchanged hit-by-pitches during their recent series at Tropicana Field.
"I'm kind of curious as to who put out the hit, because I know it wasn't one of their players by the way their players reacted to the entire situation," Maddon said. "It's kind of incompetent behavior. It's the kind of behavior that gets people hurt."
Most of the screaming in the middle of the scrum came from Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure, bench coach Tim Bogar (a former coach for Tampa Bay), and, of course, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Rays coaches Tom Foley, Jim Hickey and George Hendrick fired back, as did Peña, Sean Rodriguez and Chris Gimenez.
"I was fine the whole time," Rodriguez said. "It was only when Bobby V started saying some stuff, and I was trying to get on him and tempers flared a little bit."
When asked for his version, Valentine said, "I don't know. With what? It seemed like both teams were on the field. You mean with the guy getting hit? I don't know. Maybe it was the ghost of Fenway past remembering that (Scott) bad-mouthed all our fans and our stadium or something, just directing the ball at his leg."
Scott had criticized Fenway Park and Red Sox fans before the Rays' first visit to Boston back in April, comments which are well-remembered and draw boos when Scott comes to bat. Scott also noted during spring training how much delight he took in being a member of the Orioles when they helped knock the Red Sox out of the 2011 playoffs on the final night of the regular season.
"I don't care what Bobby V. thinks or might have said, maybe a ghost or whatnot. No, that was blatant," Rodriguez said. "What reasoning they had I don't know. I don't think it matters. You don't do that."
Morales denied he threw at Scott on any of the four pitches either behind him, inside to him or hitting him in the leg.
"I don't try to go and hit him," Morales said. "I tried to go with fastball in. I missed."
Scott began walking toward the mound after he was struck by the pitch. Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia got between Scott and Morales, but by then the area between the mound and home plate along the first base foul line was littered with players and coaches.
"We're always going to stand by each other and support each other," Peña said. "I thought the play was dirty, and we were all there for him."
When told of some of Maddon's comments, Peña said, "We stand behind Joe. He said it. But I'm not one to start making comments or anything like that. I think what needed to be said has already been said, and all I can say is we're going to stand by each other at all times."
Just as order was restored - and no players ejected, though both benches were warned - B.J. Upton had to be restrained from going into the stands after a fan who Upton said directed an insensitive comment toward David Price.
"To be honest with you he said something about Pricy that definitely wasn't suitable for TV and I didn't like it," Upton said. "You know what, I don't have a problem with fans, but I think sometimes they can cross the line and I felt like he did and kind of lost my cool. I think the people that have been around me know that.
"It's tough for me to get there, but he sent me there (Friday night)."
Upton declined to say if the comment was racial. He also didn't want to speculate on whether Morales intentionally hit Scott.
"That's truly somebody flexing their muscles on the other side that really needs to put them in their back pocket and understand they can hurt someone on their own team," he said.
When asked if he thought the incident would carry over to tonight's nationally televised game, Maddon said, "We don't initiate anything, I promise you that. It's not what we're about. I like to believe we handle ourselves in a classier manner than that.
"But we will respond to others who do attempt to do it to us. I promise you that, too."
Tampa Bay Rays