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After the brawl between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays last Sunday at Tropicana Field, some carryover shenanigans between the AL East rivals would have gotten lower odds than California Chrome to win the Belmont Stakes.
Still, one would think two professional baseball teams could avoid having tempers escalate as quickly as an Anchorman street fight. But no, grudges ruled the day, as both teams hit opposing batters that ultimately led to four Red Sox being ejected from the game.
Despite the ejections, the Red Sox still managed to emerge victorious, walking off with a 3-2 win in the 10th inning on AJ Pierzynski’s game-winning triple.
The game didn’t start nearly as well as it ended for the Red Sox, however. After the Rays jumped out in front with a run in the top of the first inning, David Price drilled David Ortiz in the bottom of the frame, which led to manager John Farrell’s ejection before the Red Sox had even mustered up their retaliation.
Naturally, it also inspired a few choice words off the Red Sox bench — David Ross in particular manages to make me adore him even more, despite his minuscule batting average.
Price struck again in the fourth inning, this time hitting first baseman Mike Carp, and both benches cleared. In spite of warnings already issued to both benches, Price was not sent to the showers. This obviously infuriated acting manager Torey Lovullo, who got himself wrung up instead.
The Rays and Red Sox briefly got back to baseball in the fifth inning. The Rays increased their lead to 2-0 on a David DeJesus RBI single, but the Red Sox got the run right back when Ortiz rapped a single to right-center to drive in Xander Bogaerts.
In the sixth, Brandon Workman would look to even the score that mattered — hit batsmen. Workman uncorked a pitch behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, and unlike Price, got no benefit of the doubt and was automatically ejected.
Third base coach Brian Butterfield, acting as manager after Lovullo departed, was also given the automatic heave-ho. That marked the fourth member of the Red Sox who had been ejected from the game, compared to none for the Rays, remarkably. Butterfield’s ejection left hitting coach Greg Colbrunn as the fourth manager of the game for the Red Sox.
Apparently afraid they would run out of managers, the Red Sox decided to try to even the runs column on the scoreboard instead of the revenge tally. Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the seventh with a single, and came around to score two batters later when Bogaerts scraped the Monster for a game-tying double.
Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara each pitched perfect innings to send the game to extra innings, where Edward Mujica and Andrew Miller worked around a leadoff walk to Rays right fielder Wil Myers.
That was all the Red Sox needed to set up a walk-off win for the second day in a row at Fenway Park.
Ortiz grounded out to start the bottom of the tenth, before Gomes became the first Red Sox to welcome the “HBP” in the box score to reach first. Pierzynski made the Rays pay three pitches later, golfing a pitch deep towards the triangle in center. Both Myers and center fielder Desmond Jennings appeared to have a bead on the ball, but Jennings went into a slide to make the catch as Myers lunged for the ball, and the two collided. That allowed the ball to trickle away enough for Gomes to score from first with the winning run on what turned out to be a triple by Pierzynski.
The Red Sox have now won five in a row.
Rubby De La Rosa will take the mound for the Red Sox in what now seems to be must-see TV between the Rays and Red Sox — at least if you’re a soap opera fan.