ST. PETERSBURG — After two fairly peaceful games, the drama returned to the Rays' rivalry with the Red Sox in their 3-2 loss Sunday at Tropicana Field.
David Ortiz's three-run home run off Chris Archer snapped the Rays' nine-game winning streak, and his ensuing actions sparked the latest chapter in the simmering rivalry between the AL East's bottom two teams.
The controversy came in the third inning, after Archer walked Daniel Nava and gave up an infield single to Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz followed by blasting a 3-and-2 changeup an estimated 376 feet into the rightfield stands.
Ortiz flipped his bat toward Boston's dugout after his swing and took a slow, shuffling trip around the bases to celebrate his 25th home run of the year. Archer called it showboating.
"I don't know what makes him think that he can showboat the way he does," Archer said, "and then nobody retaliate, nobody look at him a funny way, or nobody pitch him inside."
Ortiz and the Rays already have a rocky history.
David Price took offense to Ortiz pausing after a home run in last year's playoffs. After Price hit him with a fastball in May, Ortiz declared war on Price. The Rays ace responded by saying Ortiz sometimes acts as if he's bigger than the game of baseball.
"I don't know why (Ortiz) feels like that, but obviously he feels the way David (Price) said he does," Archer said. "He feels like he's bigger than the game. He feels like the show is all about him."
Ortiz drew some boos from the announced crowd of 25,221 and defended himself after his fifth home run in Boston's past seven games.
"Players today are too sensitive about things, and I'll just leave it like that," Ortiz said.
But he went on, adding that Archer has great stuff and will become a good pitcher but isn't seasoned enough to complain. Archer is in his first full season in the majors, and Sunday was his 48th career start.
"He's not the right guy to be saying that," Ortiz said. "Got two days in the league, you can't just be (griping) and complaining about (stuff) like that."
There were no other major fireworks on the field. Archer didn't retaliate, getting Ortiz to fly out in the fifth. He didn't allow another run in his six total innings, and Cesar Ramos intentionally walked Ortiz in his final at-bat.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was diplomatic about the incident. Maddon said that Ortiz "played it up pretty good" and that Archer is well spoken, but he also reiterated how much respect he has had for what Ortiz has done for the game.
"I'm not saying that my respect has diminished," Maddon said, "it's just something that makes you think a little bit more."
Maddon will have plenty more opportunities to think about it. Ortiz and the Red Sox will return to Tropicana Field on Aug. 29, and the Rays start the final road trip of the season at Fenway Park on Sept. 23.
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.