Let's set the scene: It's the bottom of the sixth with two outs and Matt Joyce is up for the Rays. Boston is also leading 6-4. On a 0-1 count, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey threw a 90 mph fastball that hit Joyce in the back. Video here via MLB.com.
What ensued was Joyce shouting at Lackey with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia trying to hold Joyce back with the benches then clearing.
No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected.
But who's to blame?
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 11, at 1:15 a.m. ET by Doug Mead
Immediately following the Red Sox's 14-inning 10-8 win over the Rays, manager Joe Maddon weighed in on the incident involving Lackey and Joyce in the sixth inning:
Joyce had some not-so kind comments to add as well.
No comments from the Red Sox camp at this point, but considering the history between these two teams, it will definitely be worth monitoring over the next two days.
---End of update---
What adds to this is Joyce hit a home run off Lackey in the first inning.
Not only that, but Joyce styled on a long foul ball in the second inning, which Lackey took offense to. Evan Drellich of MassLive.com said, "In the second inning, Joyce styled on a long foul ball to right. One pitch after the foul, Joyce grounded out to end the inning. Lackey barked at Joyce while he left the mound."
Think there was a message sent in the sixth inning?
When looking at all of the evidence, I have to place the blame on Joyce.
While Lackey is the one who threw the pitch that hit Joyce, it was the Rays outfielder who set up the situation.
Joyce hit a home run that brought the score to 6-1. No big deal for Lackey.
However, the one thing you don't do in baseball is watch a long fly ball...regardless of if it eventually goes foul.
Lackey took offense to it and responded. It's just part of the game.
However, there are some Rays fans who took exception to Lackey hitting Joyce.
For Tampa Bay fans, I have to ask, what if the roles were reversed? What if it were Daniel Nava or David Ortiz who did what Joyce did?
What if one of the Red Sox players hit a home run, then styled on a long foul ball? Would he have deserved to have been hit by a Tampa Bay pitcher?
Before reacting, all fans should think logically. What would you have done if you were in Lackey's position considering all of the facts?
Joyce may not have liked it, but that's life. You get hit in professional baseball when you try to show up a pitcher.
Had he just walked to first base, nothing else would have been said.
Lackey didn't aim at his head. He just put it in his back to send a message that what he did earlier in the game wasn't cool.
For Joyce, he just has to get over it. It's baseball, and that happens.