No doubt, Red Sox/Yankees is the greatest rivalry in baseball. But when it comes to brawls, Tampa Bay/Red Sox games are up there. You could see this brewing all weekend, players getting beaned, hitters flipping their bats after homeruns. In the seventh inning of the series finale, the benches finally cleared. After Lance Carter (wasn’t he in some boy band?) tried unsuccessfully to hit Manny, Ramirez promptly deposited the next pitch into the left field stands. He put his head down and ran around the bases without so much as a look out to the mound. The next pitch was an 89 MPH fastball right at Big Papi’s face, forcing him to the ground to avoid it. When he bounced back up, he was not happy. Toby Hall and the homeplate umpire managed to restrain him, probably saving Carter’s life, but the benches and bullpens emptied. In the ensuing commotion, Trot Nixon was apparently poked in the eye by Ray’s pitcher Dewon Brazelton. Nixon went off. If not for Blaine Neal, who by the way is a very large man, some asses would have been kicked. In the bottom of the inning, Arroyo took the mound with a look on his face that said “I’m gettin’ in on this”. He threw the first pitch to Chris Singleton inside, and hit him on the thigh (not the head) with the second. Benches again cleared but it was over quickly.
These teams have a history of brawling. The names and faces change, but for some reason, they just don’t seem to like each other. Who can forget Gerald Williams getting plunked by Pedro, starting up the line towards first, then charging the mound? How about Tampa Bay pitchers trying on three or four occasions to hit Brian Daubach, but missing every time? And finally, in one of the brawls, Roberto Hernandez towering over Dauber while he shrinks away holding his arm? Last year it was Kazmir hitting Millar and Manny in a span of four or five pitches, finally being ejected. I’m guessing this isn’t over.
And for the game? Well, Arroyo looked good. Talk of him going into the bullpen when Wade Miller is ready (May 8?) is tough, but I guess if not Arroyo then Wakefield? The bats treated Tampa Bay like they should be treated, capped by a Jay Payton grand slam. The bullpen came in and finished the job for Arroyo. The humiliating sweep was avoided and the Sox come home for a quick series with Baltimore before heading back out.
Wells goes tonight, trying to extend his scoreless innings streak, currently at 15. I like Boomer’s chances at home after he dominated the O’s last time out.