ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In Philadelphia, the Dodgers’ Josh Beckett was pitching a no-hitter with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez playing roles in a 6-0 win over the Phillies.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox were losing to the Rays, 8-5.
Was there some reverse 2012 karma going on?
The 2012 guys were making history while the Sox were licking their wounds.
Sunday it was Craig Breslow’s turn to erupt — he gave up five runs in the seventh inning to break open a 3-3 game. If you’ve been living in a cave or have been buried under holiday weekend burgers, the Sox have lost 10 straight games.
There was a brawl in the seventh; could that ignite a spark under the Red Sox?
We’ve written this many times over the years, but could this be just what the doctor ordered? There have been times the Red Sox have shown unity during and after a brawl, but there have been times that it hasn’t given them any juice.
Maybe this one won’t, either, as they face the Braves in Atlanta Monday in interleague play. But who knows? The Sox might be thanking Yunel Escobar someday soon.
Escobar set the Red Sox off when in an 8-3 game in the seventh, he took third on defensive indifference. The Sox thought the Rays were piling on. Escobar took his helmet off and started yelling at them. They yelled back and soon the benches emptied.
Whether the Rays were right or wrong in taking an extra base is up for opinion.
The Sox’ Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes both didn’t care that he did it, they just objected to Escobar’s reaction.
“Everybody enjoys a little dustup once in a while,” said Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. “I think our guys came together. We stuck up for each other. Personally, I think it could be what we needed.
“We showed some emotion. Our guys got their point across.”
Lovullo and John Farrell coached and managed Escobar in Toronto, where Escobar got caught with a derogatory remark about gays on his eye black.
“I thought it was a little icky,” Lovullo said of Escobar taking third. “There are times when he’s a very good player. There are times he gets a little emotional and that’s what happened to him right there.
“Our guys were sticking up for our side and he was sticking up for their side and he was holding his ground. As far as the play goes, only they know what they have in their bullpen. Only they know what they felt holding a five-run lead.
“I certainly know that we wouldn’t have ran in that situation.”
“He’s a pretty passionate guy, I respect him as a player,” Lovullo added.
Gomes said of Escobar, “He was yelling at our dugout. He kept yelling, took his helmet off, and continued to yell. I don’t know, I don’t have much patience, don’t have much time right now to be in an arguing match. He can take the bag all he wants, you know, but yell in my dugout, point in my dugout, take your helmet off and basically challenge our whole dugout, I’ll have a problem with that.”
“I figured the hands-on approach was a little more appropriate,” Gomes added.
Escobar, who had hit a two-run double to get to second, was ejected. Gomes, who hit a two-run homer to tie the game at 3, also was ejected. And Sean Rodriguez, who earlier in the seventh hit a three-run homer to break the 3-3 deadlock, was tossed, too.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s over,” Escobar said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon had the usual well-thought-out response and defense for his team. Hard to argue with this one, folks.
He pointed out that Escobar’s play “wasn’t as egregious as last year in the playoffs when they [Red Sox] had an 8-2 lead in the eighth inning, [Jacoby] Ellsbury led off with a single and stole second base, beating us, 12-2. I think that was a little bit more egregious than their interpretation [Sunday].
“I didn’t take any exception when they tried to score on us last year because our goal is to not let them score a run. The whole game. Apparently, some of the guys on their bench did not like that.
“I really wish they would roll back the tape and look at that more specifically. You have to keep your personal vendettas, your personal prejudice, your personal judgment components, in the back of your pocket. So before you start screaming regarding any of that, understand what happened just last year and also understand that in this ballpark five-run leads can evaporate quickly.”
It really wasn’t about that, anyway. It was a frustrated Red Sox team just wanting to get out there and show some fight.
“I’ve been in these situations a lot,” David Ortiz said about the losing streak. “I know how to handle it. I’m worried about the other guys in here who haven’t been through it. The young guys. That’s who I’m worried about. If this thing today helps, great. I think we’re a together team anyway. But you never know what might set a team off. I hope this does.”
David Ross, who seemed to be one of the players yelling at Escobar, said he was yelling at the umpires. But he pointed out, “I think we’re just tired of getting beat.”
That’s pretty much it.
As the Red Sox were losing again, old buddies Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford were conjuring up images of beer and chicken in the September collapse in 2011, and the horrible 69-win team of 2012, from which they escaped Aug. 25 of that season.
“I’d rather win the game than the argument,” Gomes said.
But maybe the argument leads to a win?
Let’s see how it turns out this time.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.