Thursday, the Rays dressed like nerds.
But Friday night, they didn't like being pushed around or thrown at. And, led by manager Joe Maddon, they made their feelings known.
Tempers flared in the ninth inning of their 7-4 win over the Red Sox when Boston pitcher Franklin Morales first threw behind, then hit Rays DH Luke Scott with two outs.
Both benches and bullpens emptied, and jawing led to shoving and several heated exchanges, though no major blows were landed and no one was ejected.
Maddon was adamant in his postgame comments that the Sox coaching staff was to blame for what he termed "a weak, cowardly effort," and he made it clear that when provoked, the Rays will respond.
"It's kind of incompetent behavior," he said. "It's the kind of behavior that gets people hurt on your own side by choosing to do something so ridiculous."
Among other adjectives and adverbs, Maddon said, it was "absurd, idiotic; I'll use all those different words."
Scott, walking with a limp and his right knee red and swollen, was measured in his response. "It's obvious where it came from," he said, referring to the decision to throw at him. "At the end of the day, you reap what you sow. Tomorrow is another day."
Morales denied any intent and said he was surprised by the reaction: "I didn't try to hit him. I was just trying to go with my fastball in, and I missed it."
The Rays pretty much scoffed at that. First baseman Carlos Peña said it was obviously "a dirty play," and Maddon said, "It reeks of intent."
The Rays and Red Sox have a history of incidents and brawls, including a major dustup at Fenway Park in 2008. Recently, there was chatter last week when Rays rookie pitcher Matt Moore hit Boston's Adrian Gonzalez and the Sox later hit Scott. Earlier in Friday's game, the Rays hit Dustin Pedroia but in a situation that brought David Ortiz to the plate as the tying run, leading Maddon to say hitting Scott in retaliation was "not called for.''
Also, Scott made disparaging comments in April about the facilities at Fenway, which manager Bobby Valentine tried to use in a sarcastic comment about what happened Friday.
"Emotions boiling over at that point? Frustration mounting? I don't know," Valentine said. "It seemed like it was with both teams on the field. But with the guy getting hit? Maybe it was the Ghost of Fenway Past remembering that he bad-mouthed all our fans and stadium, or something, just directing the ball at his leg."
Maddon never directly blamed Valentine or pitching coach Bob McClure, but he did make a point to praise how the Boston players reacted.
"I'm kind of curious regarding who put out the hit, because I know it wasn't one of their players," he said. "Truly, watch the video. The people that were incensed, obviously they're the ones that were probably behind the effort, the really weak, cowardly effort on their part. Did I say that strongly enough? Did I make my point?"
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Among the more agitated Sox were McClure, who was seen grabbing Peña's jersey, and bench coach Tim Bogar, a former Rays staffer, with whom infielder Sean Rodriguez got into an exchange over something he said Bogar said. "I was fine the whole time,'' Rodriguez said. "Bobby V started saying some stuff. Tempers flared a little bit.''
The more active Rays included Rodriguez, Peña, catcher Chris Gimenez and coaches Tom Foley and George Hendrick. After order was somewhat restored, outfielder B.J. Upton got involved when a fan near the Rays dugout said "something" — which Upton said was not suitable for print or broadcast — about teammate David Price. "I didn't like it, and I lost my cool," Upton said.
Maddon, Upton, Peña and several other Rays said they did not expect any carryover when the teams play tonight.
"We don't initiate anything,'' Maddon said. "But we will respond to others that do attempt to do it to us. I promise you that, too.''
The Rays (28-18) won the game on the strength of three homers off Jon Lester, from Matt Joyce (his second grand slam in a week), Elliot Johnson and Peña; a good but not great five-inning start by Boston native Alex Cobb; and, after J.P. Howell walked his only two batters, a solid night of relief, with Jake McGee, who got four outs, earning "hero" of the game, Maddon said.