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Brawl in Beantown

Red Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp did say it could be "tit for tat."

Just one night after Crisp's hard, late-slide into Akinori Iwamura, Rays starter James Shields plunked him with a pitch in the right leg during his first at-bat in the second inning Thursday.

Crisp rushed the mound, starting a benches - and bullpen - clearing brawl, reminscent of the one in spring training against the Yankees. This one resulted in three ejections, including Shields, Crisp and, like in the Yankees one, Jonny Gomes.

After getting hit with a breaking ball, Crisp took a slow step toward first, stutter stepped before tossing his helmet off and sprinting toward Shields. Shields, who tossed off his cap, too, wound up and missed Crisp with a right punch. Crisp connected with Shields before getting tackled by Dioner Navarro; Jonny Gomes, once again, came in and punched Crisp a few times on the ground, with Carl Carwford came from the dugout steps to get a few punches, too.

Both benches converged on the mound, trying to hold each other back. It took several minutes to sort it out.

But as Crisp, ejected, walked off the field to a standing ovation, Shields - also ejected - walked off to roars of boos.

For the Rays, Shields and Gomes were ejected. Crisp was the only Red Sox ejection.

Grant Balfour is in to pitch for the Rays in an unexpected long relief appearance. Crisp was replaced by Chris Carter whom, as fate turns out, will be making his major league debut.

How did this all start?

Crisp said he made the hard-slide into Iwamura Wednesday to "send a message," after he felt Jason Bartlett made a "shady" play by dropping his knee to block second base during Crisp's stolen base attempt. Crisp ended up jamming his left hand, but was clearly upset with Bartlett.

Bartlett said today that he was surprised Crisp reacted that way, as he didn't drop his knee to intentionally hurt Crisp, it was just an instinctual play he does when he has to dig for a ball in the dirt to his left.

Crisp's later slide into Iwamura drew the ire of Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was fuming when he came out of the dugout for a pitching change in the eighth on Wednesday. Maddon pointed at the Red Sox dugout and had a long-distance exchange with Crisp, who stood on the Red Sox dugout steps and, according to him, yelled that if they want to take it out on anybody, take it out on him.

Was last night the end of it, or could this turn into something larger? Iwamura said it was over last night, and Crisp hoped it was too, but didn't deny something could come of it...

“I’ll take mine if they want to come back after me for some reason. It’s tick for tack right now,” Crisp told reporters Wednesday. “If they want to come after me with a little extra bonus or whatever . . . it keeps on going back and forth, tick for tack."

Thursday's brawl wasn't the first hint of bad blood between the franchises; here's a short look into history:

Update 8:04 pm Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch from Jon Lester in the fifth, but there were no fireworks this time. Crawford didn't look happy, but that also could be because the Rays are down 7-1 and headed for a sweep.


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There have been a number of heated incidents between the Devil Rays and Red Sox. Among the highlights:
Aug. 29, 2000: Boston's Pedro Martinez hits leadoff man Gerald Williams, igniting the first of two bench-clearing brawls and setting the tone for a night in which eight Rays are ejected.

Sept. 29, 2000: Tampa Bay's Roberto Hernandez strikes out Trot Nixon to end the game that eliminates the Red Sox, then waves goodbye to them from the mound. "They're going home," Hernandez says. "They don't have to worry about any playoffs now. They can stop watching now. Scoreboard's over. Goodbye."

May 5, 2002: Tampa Bay's Ryan Rupe hits Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand in the first inning. The next inning, Trot Nixon's bat "slips out" of his hand and flies toward Rupe, earning Nixon a four-game suspension. Boston pitcher Frank Castillo later hits Randy Winn and is suspended five games.

SEPT. 9-10, 2002:
With the umpires on notice from MLB about the potential for trouble, Boston pitcher Derek Lowe and manager Grady Little are ejected after Lowe hits Felix Escalona the first night, then Rays pitcher Lee Gardner and manager Hal McRae are tossed the next night after Gardner hits Lou Merloni. Umpire Jerry Crawford says: "(MLB) feels it is one of the more serious situations going on in the game today."'

Sept. 27, 2004: Boston's Bronson Arroyo hits Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez, then Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir hits Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar in consecutive at-bats, leading to a bench-clearing gathering. Kazmir and manager Lou Piniella are ejected.

April, 24 2005: After five batters are hit in the first two games and Aubrey Huff is hit Sunday, tempers flare when Lance Carter throws a pitch at David Ortiz's head, leading to a bench-clearing incident and the ejections of Nixon and Dewon Brazelton, along with Carter and Piniella. Arroyo then hits Chris Singleton, and is ejected along with manager Terry Francona.

July 18, 2005: Piniellla had an explosive reaction to a reversal of a ninth inning call by umpire Dana DeMuth, charging onto the field, screaming at the umpires enough to get ejected, and throwing his hat across the diamond. DeMuth had changed his call after a lengthy protest by Curt Schilling, who may have bumped DeMuth.

March 27, 2006: Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez started a benches-clearing brawl by punching Joey Gathright in the face when the Rays outfielder was down after an eighth-inning play at the plate. By the time it was over, the benches and bullpen emptied, and Tavarez and Gathright were ejected.

June 5, 2008: Coco Crisp's hard slide into Akinori Iwamura the night before boils over when Rays starter James Shields hits Crisp with a pitch in the second inning. The beches- and bullpens- clear in a brawl, with Shields, Crisp and Jonny Gomes, getting ejected.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:35am]


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