Some interesting comments from the D-Rays on the eve of their series in Boston, courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times:

“Usually we’ve played them two or three times by now, ” LF Carl Crawford said. “It’s scary. Who wants to play the Red Sox 18 times from this point on? It’s odd.”

And not only do the Red Sox usually beat the Rays – 98 times in 151 games overall – the teams have been known to beat each other up.

The bad blood started with the ugly August 2000 Pedro Martinez-Gerald Williams brawl (leading to the ejection of eight Rays) and has resurfaced in some form just about every year since.

Highlights include Trot Nixon’s flying bat in May 2002, a bench-clearing to-do after four hit batters in September 2004, a full-scale brawl in April 2005 followed by a running verbal battle between Lou Piniella and Curt Schilling and a vicious brawl during spring training 2006.

Add in all the hit batters, frequent accusations and low tolerance by the umpires, and it could be a long, hot summer.

“We’re going to get our fill of the Red Sox, ” said Tuesday starter Scott Kazmir, whose 5-2 record against Boston makes him a central figure in the drama. “I don’t know for what reason but it’s ended up being a little bit of a rivalry. … It seems like there’s always something, and it’s usually right at the beginning, the first time we see them.”

The Rays also have 14 games left against the Yankees, but the Sox – who make their first visit to the Trop July 27-29 – are the bigger concern right now.

“It seems like there’s always something happening, ” Crawford said. “I don’t know why that is. Hopefully we can stop that from happening. Because there’s going to be a bunch of chances with all those games we play them.”

They always seem to play us tough, but after splitting a series with the Rangers, we’ve gotta make hay against these guys.

And, as far as I’m concerned, in the battle of the mascots… we win!