Monday, April 25, 2005

Games 17 - 19

Final Scores:

Boston Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5
Boston Red Sox 5, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6
Boston Red Sox 11, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3

So the big story of the weekend wasn't the Sox losing twice and coming on the verge of being swept by the Devil Rays for the first time since the team was founded seven years ago. It wasn't the lackluster pitching that saw Alan Embree give up a walkoff homerun on his first pitch after Johnny Damon had knocked in the tying run in the ninth on Friday, or a Schilling outting so poor on Saturday that the ace knocked himself harder than any reporter would dare do. It was the fact that they really do hate us down in St. Pete.

The Boston Globe has a good short history of the blood feud that started five years ago, but suffice it to say that the seven batters hit by pitches over this weekend were pretty much in line with what's been happening since August 29, 2000. To be honest, I had forgotten that the Devil Rays and the Sox don't really get along; the first series between the two teams this year didn't bring up any of the bad blood. Clearly something about being in Florida or how close the first two games were reignited things and once again we're all reminded that Tampa Bay has created this weird rivalry that revolves entirely around the two teams getting pissed at each other roughly once a year for no good reason. Created some great highlight footage, not only of the fight, but of the results...but to lay that out, I'll have to explain what happened, as told to me by Robin, who called me as I was boarding as bus coming back from Albany.

Bronson Arroyo, not known for his control when it comes to inside pitches (he was a league leader in hitting batters last year), hit Aubrey Huff in the sixth. Lance Carter came in at top of the seventh in relief of Hideo Nomo and threw a ball behind Manny. Warnings were issued and the next pitch, Ramirez smashed a fastball over the fence in left for a solo homerun. Ortiz came up next and Carter, for reasons unknown (perhaps stupidity? why would you
ever want to piss off a man that big? Especially someone who's smiling all the time, so you know he's pissed if he gets upset) threw a pitch at Big Papi's head. Benches clear, Ortiz is restrained by combination of Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall and the home plate umpire and Doug Mirabelli and Trot Nixon get into it with Dewon Brazelton (a screaming match, though, for pure violence, The Brawl definately leaves this fracas in the dust). It was at this point that Brazelton allegedly stuck his finger in Nixon's eye, leading to the rightfielder to explain afterwards: "I wasn't threatening him. I was giving him information." Someone needs to incorporate that into an action movie. Carter, Nixon and manager Lou Piniella were all ejected. Nixon had to restrained by Blaine Neal and John Halama for several minutes - the man was pissed.

Ortiz struck out afterwards, but got his revenge later in the eigth with a solo shot off the catwalk, after Jay Payton, subbing in for Nixon, hit a grand slam to put the Sox up 10 - 3. Arroyo and Francona were ejected after Arroyo hit Chris Singleton in the thigh with what Arroyo claimed to be a cutter that got too far inside. The Boston pitcher had the capping subtle insult, too: "Any time you come here to Tampa, these guys aren't supposed to take two out of three, much less all three, from us. Yeah, I definitely felt an urgency to come out and have a good outing and make sure we get out of here with at least one."

Tonight, The Riviera Part 2, featuring an Embedded Yankee*/Bruce Chen rematch in Boston. Robin, Nikki and I will be down in the bar this time with the real fans and the big TVs. Time to go party down with the crowd. GO SOX!!!

* - only because it seems to be working