BOSTON –– The bad blood started percolating last Thursday, when Rays pitcher Matt Moore drilled Adrian Gonzalez. It was a day after the Red Sox first baseman guaranteed he'd deliver a home run at Tropicana Field.
Later in the game, Red Sox starter Felix Doubront plunked Rays designated hitter Luke Scott, possibly in retaliation. Nearly a week later in Fenway Park, all wasn't exactly forgotten.
After reliever Burke Badenhop beaned Dustin Pedroia –– in the back –– during the sixth inning of Friday's 7-4 loss, Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales responded by hitting Scott with a fastball in the ninth inning.
The exchange caused both benches to clear, highlighted by pitching coach Bob McClure and bench coach Tim Bogar getting into it with Tampa Bay personnel. For his part, Morales denied that he nailed the Rays designated hitter in retaliation.
"I'm surprised because you know what, the last time that I hit Will [Rhymes], that wasn't on purpose," Morales said. "I tried to go with my fastball in and I missed the pitch. I tried to use my two-seamer and my two-seamer was [off] and I missed it."
But Scott opened himself up to be a target. Back in February, the designated hitter ripped into Red Sox fans after his previous encounters with them, calling them "vulgar" and saying "they cause trouble."
He returned fire again in April, criticizing the state of Fenway Park –– in his 100th year in existence –– tabbing the historic stadium "a dump." After Scott opened his mouth twice, Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine hinted that the retaliation was warranted.
"Boys will be boys," Valentine said. "It seemed like both teams were on the field. With the guy getting hit? Maybe it was the Ghost of Fenway Past remembering he bad-mouthed all our fans and our stadium, directing the ball at his leg."
Before drilling Scott, Morales already threw inside and barely missed him. At that point, the entire Rays' bench rose onto the top step of the dugout, waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
And the bench quickly emptied when Morales' 97 mph fastball connected. Shortly after the game ended, Scott elected to keep his blunt comments to himself.
"I'll respond this way –– I respect every team and every player I play against," Scott said. "From what I know about Morales, I know he's a pretty good guy. It's obvious where it came from. At the end of the day, you reap what you sow."
Once the dugouts cleared, Gonzalez and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz attempted to intervene between the ongoing tussles. When asked if the sequence stemmed from his guarantee, Gonzalez downplayed it.
"I don't think so," Gonzalez said. "We didn't talk about anything like that. There weren't any hard feelings from anything from the last series. It definitely wasn't from that."
Rays manager Joe Maddon took a similar approach of deflecting blame away from his pitching staff. In the process of defending both Badenhop and Moore –– from last week's clash –– he delivered a jab toward the Red Sox.
"Pedroia gets hit, not because we're trying to hit him," Maddon said. "He just got hit. We don't want Papi coming up with two guys on. You kidding me? I don't care who's pitching for us.
"That's truly somebody flexing their muscles on the other side that really needs to put them in their back pocket and understand that they can hurt their team by doing something like that."
And the next chapter continues on Saturday, when the Red Sox and Rays square off again.