Red Sox Fight to Keep AL East Lead; Beat Rays 7-1

By on June 6, 2008 in

Right now, the Boston Red Sox have the mentality that before every game they must prepare themselves for battle, and occasionally they even end up fighting. Thursday night benches cleared and tempers flared, yet again, in Boston’s 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The win was the Red Sox 13th consecutive victory at home, the longest streak in baseball since 2006.

Following up Wednesday night’s fiasco where words were exchanged between Rays manager Joe Madden and Sox outfield Coco Crisp, Rays starting pitcher Jamie Shields tried sending Crisp and the Sox a message that the Rays weren’t about to take anything from anybody any longer. Shields plunked Crisp in the thigh with a fastball to open up the 2nd inning.

“I protected my own players and that’s what we need to do around here,” Shields said. “We’ve been getting stomped around the last 10 years and it isn’t going to happen anymore. I had to let them know early and let them know right away.”

After the beaming, Crisp threw aside his bat, tossed his helmet away and then rampantly charged the mound, running directly towards Shields.

“I charged the mound. (Shields) tried to hit me with a punch,” Crisp said. “I’m not upset at all. We fought. That’s all it is. There were some cheap shots there. (Carl) Crawford came sliding in. I don’t know why he was pulling hair, scratching. After that it was three, four guys on one.”

After dodging a Mike Tyson-esk roundhouse from Shields, Crisp was able to land a few shots before being tackled by catcher Dioner Navarro from behind. Both benches cleared and Rays DH Jonny Gomes was quick to reach the mound and land multiple punches on Crisp who lay restrained, on the ground, unable to fight back.

Once everything settled down, Crisp was ejected for charging the mound, Gomes was tossed for his role in the fight and Shields was told to hit the showers as well for having instigated the whole thing with the errant pitch.

This is the 5th benches clearing brawl between the two clubs dating back to the year 2000. It’s the first one, however, when the two teams have been in 1st and 2nd place in the division with a little more at steak in the outcome of the game.

The game itself wasn’t much of a contest. Boston took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Manny Ramirez’s 13 homerun of the season. The blast cleared the green monster seats in left and landed somewhere in between Lansdowne Street and the Mass Turnpike. Manny would add a 2 RBI single in the 4th inning that made the score 7-1, which would prove to be the final.

Jon Lester earned his 4th victory of the season tossing 6 1/3 innings of ball for the Sox, allowing only 1 earned run on 8 hits. He struck out 5 batters and walked none on the outing lowering his ERA to 3.50 on the season.

The Sox now welcome the Seattle Mariners into town for a three game weekend series. Less than two weeks ago the M’s took two of three games against Boston out in Seattle so the Sox look to stay hot at home against their Western Conference foes.

Tonight, Bartolo Colon looks to stay perfect on the season in an attempt to improve his record to 4-0. He will be up against Felix Hernandez in a rematch of the May 26th game that Boston was victorious in 5-3.

During the last ten games, Boston boasts a 7-3 record while Seattle has posted a 3-7 mark. First pitch tonight is at 7:05pm EST.

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