For the Red Sox, the best form of revenge after a tense night of baseball at Fenway Park was a walkoff victory against the Tampa Bay Rays.
A.J. Pierzynski won the game with a triple as Boston beat the Rays, 3-2, in 10 innings on Friday. It was the fifth straight win for the Red Sox and surely the sweetest of the bunch after manager John Farrell, two of his coaches, and starting pitcher Brandon Workman were ejected.
By the end of a wild game, hitting coach Greg Colbrunn was the fourth manager for the Sox.
“Lot of emotion in that game for both sides,” Pierzynski said. “It was just a big win.”
The winning run came together quickly. Juan Carlos Ovideo started the 10th for Tampa Bay and hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch with one out. Pierzynski then lined a changeup toward the triangle in center field.
With the Rays playing deep, center fielder Desmond Jennings and right fielder Wil Myers converged and collided. As the ball rolled away, Gomes raced around the bases. He scored while raising his helmet high, then fired it in the air.
It was the second walkoff win in as many nights for the Red Sox and the first walkoff hit for Pierzynski since 2009. The last walkoff triple for the Sox was by Troy O’Leary in 1996.
Pierzynski was 2 for 5 and has a nine-game hitting streak with six RBIs in that stretch. He has been one of the players fueling the win streak.
Five relievers combined on 4⅔ scoreless innings for the Red Sox, with Andrew Miller (2-4) getting the win. The last-place Rays have lost four straight.
“It’s awesome to win this one,” said Burke Badenhop, who pitched 1⅔ innings of relief. “To fight back in extra innings, to hold them when we feel like we’ve been wronged; nothing better you can do there.”
The already heated rivalry boiled over as the benches cleared between the teams for the second time in six days.
It started in the first inning. With a runner on first base and two outs, Rays starter David Price planted a 94-mile-per-hour fastball in David Ortiz’s back. Plate umpire Dan Bellino immediately warned both benches against retaliation.
Sox manager John Farrell calmly walked out of the dugout and was ejected after a few seconds and a few loud curses.
As Farrell and Bellino dickered, Gomes was at the plate in what appeared to be a heated discussion with Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria.
The teams had an incident last Sunday at Tropicana Field after Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar exchanged words with the Red Sox bench and players from both teams came on the field.
But Price’s enmity likely went back to Game 2 of the American League Division Series last October.
Ortiz hit two home runs off Price in that game and admired the second one at the plate for a few seconds before jogging around the bases. Friday marked the first time Price had faced Ortiz since that game.
Price yelled at Ortiz at the time and even his girlfriend went on Twitter and criticized Ortiz. The players spoke before the next game and declared the matter settled. But Price apparently did not care to remember that conversation on Friday and Ortiz was livid.
“He apologized to myself and everything was cool. So first at-bat of the season against me, he drilled me? I mean, it’s a war. It’s on,” Ortiz said. “Next time he hits me he better bring the gloves. I have no respect for him no more.”
Price claimed he was trying only to pitch inside, a disingenuous comment given the history between the two and what has been near-flawless command by the lefthander this season.
Price came into the game having walked eight and hit two over 77⅓ innings.
Said Rays manager Joe Maddon: “That moment was not precipitated by last week. That to me had nothing to do with what happened last week. I mean that.”
Price hit Mike Carp on the hands with a 93-m.p.h. fastball with two outs in the fourth inning and the benches cleared after Carp stepped toward the mound. A furious Ortiz tried to get at Price and was restrained by Rays catcher Jose Molina.
“I was going to let him know,” Ortiz said. “He knows he screwed up. He did that on his own. No player was comfortable with the situation. He did that on his own.”
The umpires met and did not eject Price despite the first-inning warning.
“We felt the pitch was certainly inside but not intentional,” crew chief Jeff Kellogg said. “So that’s why he stayed in the game.”
Price also hit Carp last week, however. Farrell thought Price should have ejected.
“A ball up around his neck and they didn’t make a move then? The umpires allowed this game to escalate even further,” Farrell said.
Red Sox bench Torey Lovullo, managing the team in Farrell’s absence, yelled at the umpires and was ejected.
Third base coach Brian Butterfield moved into the dugout to manage and first base coach Arnie Beyeler went to third base.
That combination did not last long. With one out in the sixth inning, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman threw a pitch behind the head of Longoria and was immediately ejected by Bellino. Butterfield also was ejected because the benches had been warned.
“Ball slipped out of my hand in the rain,” said a well-coached Workman.
There was less action on the scoreboard. Workman went 5⅓ innings, giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Sox scored in the fifth inning on two-out singles by Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and Ortiz. Bogaerts was 3 for 5 and is hitting .304.
Until that run, Price had thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings against the Sox dating to his start last Sunday at Tropicana Field.
The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. started the rally with a single.
Brock Holt struck out after trying to bunt but Bogaerts belted a changeup high of the wall in left-center and Bradley scored.
Price went seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out six.
Maddon expects there to be more animosity in the next two games.
“You know what, you let the players play. I’m a big believer in the players do a great job of policing one another. I try not to interfere with that kind of stuff. We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow,” he said.