You'd think the Red Sox would have bigger things to worry about.
The Rays certainly did, brushing aside Sox complaints about Yunel Escobar swiping a base with a large lead that led to a benches-clearing incident. Instead, they relished an impressive 8-5 victory that extended their winning streak to a season-high four games and dealt Boston a 10th straight defeat.
"We're going to keep playing," Rays third-base coach Tom Foley said. "They took offense to it. Things got out of hand a little bit. So that's where we are. We won."
The Rays (23-28) were clearly feeling better about themselves, following three straight walkoffs with an inspired seventh-inning comeback after losing the lead Sunday, as they head to Toronto to face the first-place Blue Jays.
"It's been good," Evan Longoria said. "We hit rock bottom there for a while. Sometimes you've got to do that to go up."
The seventh-inning to-do after Escobar reacted angrily to the Sox hissing was the latest installment in the heated rivalry between the teams, but it really didn't amount to much.
There was one real blow, with one-time Rays enforcer Jonny Gomes — shocker! — going after Escobar. Three ejections — Gomes, Escobar and Sean Rodriguez, whose eventful day also included a tiebreaking pinch-hit three-run homer. And another sermon from Rays manager Joe Maddon on the inappropriateness of complaining about your opponent trying to score more runs.
The seventh started with the Rays leading 3-1 after a solid start by Jake Odorizzi, but Joel Peralta gave it up by giving up his fourth homer to Gomes in 13 at-bats.
But the Rays came back, Rodriguez crushing his team-leading sixth homer. An out and two singles later, Escobar doubled to make it 8-3.
And that's when it got interesting.
Escobar took off for third and made it unchallenged, then several Sox, backup catcher David Ross seemingly among them, started yelling at him, objecting to him taking a base with a five-run lead. Escobar broke away from Foley, who was holding him back, and the benches cleared.
Maddon insisted Escobar made a good move to try to build the lead — further evidenced by the Sox scoring two in the ninth and getting the tying run to the on-deck circle.
Then Maddon, noting that Boston's 5-0 Saturday lead didn't hold up, delivered his standard speech on "this crazy stuff about leads and teams trying to not score runs."
"The point of the game is to score runs if you're on offense," he said. "The point of the game is to prevent runs when you're on defense."
And by the end of the long afternoon, it seemed the defending World Series champs' issue with Escobar was as much the product of their longest-in-20-years losing streak as anything.
Admitted Ross: "I think we're just tired of getting beat."