An American League East divisional battle between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday got heated and resulted in benches clearing in the seventh inning. Umpires ejected Boston's Jonny Gomes and Tampa Bay's Yunel Escobar from the ballgame amid the chaos.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reported the news as the drama unfolded at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field:
Gomes gets tossed. Escobar gets tossed— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) May 25, 2014
Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe felt the tactics the Rays deployed with the outcome pretty well in hand led to tempers flaring:
Stealing third up 5 in 7th inning against a team about to lose 10 straight was going to start something— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 25, 2014
Red Sox catcher David Ross appeared to add fuel to the fire, per the Boston Herald's John Tomase:
Looks like Ross yelled, "That's not helping. Trust me," followed by, "let's go." But that's just my amateur lip reading.— John Tomase (@jtomase) May 25, 2014
Following the game, Gomes discussed his involvement in the incident (via Rob Bradford of WEEI Boston and Tim Britton of the Providence Journal):
Gomes: I don't have much patience or time right now to be in an arguing match ... The hands on approach was a little more appropriate— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) May 25, 2014
Gomes: "I'd rather win a ballgame than win an arguing match."— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) May 25, 2014
Gomes provided a spark to the Red Sox lineup by swatting a two-run homer in the top of the seventh as a pinch hitter, and Escobar had two RBI of his own on the day. When Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to dial up the call to steal, which is something he's known for more than most skippers, the bad blood began to boil.
More negativity is the last thing Boston needs at the moment, as it upped its losing streak to 10 games following Sunday's defeat, which has seen the club plummet to the cellar of the AL East. The Rays were fighting their own adversity after a rocky start to the 2014 MLB season but have now strung together four wins.
Suspensions seem likely for both Gomes and Escobar, given their respective roles in Sunday's tumultuous encounter. Fines should be the minimal punishment, but it all depends on what MLB determines after viewing video of the incident.
Overall, neither team is in ideal position to succeed this season after varying degrees of prosperity in recent years. The Rays had the last laugh with a victory Sunday, but don't be surprised if this exchange leads to further conflict in the future.