Bad Blood Between Rays, Red Sox Nothing New

By David Hill

Last night’s skirmish between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays was nothing new. In fact, almost since the beginning of the Rays existence, bad blood has existed between these two franchises. Here’s a quick look back at some of the more memorable incidents that have occurred in the past 15 years:

The rivalry really got underway on August 29, 2000. Pedro Martinez hit leadoff batter Gerald Williams, setting off the first of two bench clearing brawls. Four Boston players were hit, and 8 players were ejected. However, Martinez got the last laugh, as he took a no-hitter into the ninth, finishing with an 8-0 win.

Ryan Rupe started the fireworks on May 5, 2002 by hitting Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand in the first inning. In the following inning, Trot Nixon “lost the grip on the bat,” as it flew towards Rupe on the mound, earning Nixon a four game suspension. Frank Castillo later hit Randy Winn in retaliation, earning Castillo a five game suspension.

Another beanball war broke out on September 27, 2004. After Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo plunked Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez, Scott Kazmir drilled Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar on consecutive at-bats. Benches cleared, and Kazmir and manager Lou Pinella were ejected.

The bad blood picked up again in the April 22-24, 2005 series. Three batters were hit in the first game, and another two in the second game, with Millar getting hit in both games. During the third game, Lance Carter threw a pitch at David Ortiz’s head, leading to yet another bench clearing situation and four ejections.

Coco Crisp was the center of the Rays – Red Sox fracas on June 5, 2008. The previous day, Crisp had attempted to steal second during the sixth inning, at which point Jason Bartlett placed his knee in the way so as to block the bag. Crisp attempted another steal in the eighth inning, taking out Akinori Iwamura on a hard slide into the base. James Shields retaliated by drilling Crisp in the leg in his first at bat, at which point in time Crisp charged the mound. Shields and Crisp each threw a punch at each other, setting off a bench clearing brawl.

Last night was just the latest incident. Luke Scott had been hit in the previous two meetings with the Sox, and started towards the mound after being hit yet again. Given the history between these two squads, any time they face off could feature yet another tussle.