When he thought about it, David Price was shocked he got 20 pitches into his start before getting a warning from plate umpire Dan Bellino.
As soon as Price’s 94-mile-per-hour, first-inning fastball dotted David Ortiz in the hip, Bellino hopped from his crouch behind Rays catcher Jose Molina.
He cut between Ortiz and Molina to make a beeline for Price. He pointed sternly to warn Price, then turned to put the Red Sox dugout on notice, before doing the same to the Rays.
The teams had just had a benches-clearing dustup in Tampa a week ago.
“With everything that’s going on, I figured a warning would be passed out before the game,” Price said. “That wasn’t the case.”
Boston’s 3-2, 10-inning win was another volatile chapter in their long-running rivalry. Four batters ended up getting seam stamps, Sox manager John Farrell, bench coach Torey Lovullo, starting pitcher Brandon Workman, and third base coach Brian Butterfield all were ejected, the benches cleared yet again, and somehow Price managed to stay on the mound for seven innings, giving up just two runs on six hits.
Even though they had history going back to Price’s beef with the way Ortiz admired his two home runs off Price in the ALDS last October, the lefthander said no hard feelings linger.
His intent was to pitch Ortiz inside.
“I’ve got to establish my fastball in,” Price said. “I had six lefties in that lineup. That’s my favorite side of the plate to go to. So I’ve got to establish in there.”
The fourth-inning fastball that clipped Mike Carp around the hands was a different matter.
Price was aware that he’d hit Carp in the past.
When it happened again Friday night, Carp immediately dropped his bat and started barking at Price as players spilled out from both dugouts and bullpens.
“I 100 percent understand his frustration,” Price said. “Obviously that’s not the pitch I’m trying to throw, that’s not the pitch, if I was trying to hit him, that’s nowhere near the region it’s going to be. I didn’t mean to do that.”
Carp and Price have faced each other seven times, and Price has hit him twice. Last May, Price dotted Carp with the bases loaded.
The way things have played out when they’ve crossed paths, Price said he understood why Carp was fuming.
“I absolutely get it, especially with Carp,” Price said. “And they’ve all been in the same region.
“I’ve extended apologies to him both times before. That’s not something I’m trying to do. I had six lefties in the lineup today. I wanted to throw my fastball in and wasn’t able to do it.”
The next time Carp came to the plate, Price said he tried to subtly squash the matter.
“I completely understand how mad he was,” Price said. “When he was walking up to the plate in his next at-bat, I just gave him a head nod. It’s the same thing I did in Tampa. He was coming up to the plate after his first at-bat in the first and I just told him ‘my bad.’ He gave me a head nod as well. And I completely get it.”
Before the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon insisted there was no leftover animosity from a week ago. After the game, he said Friday’s chaos was in no way carryover from Tampa.
“That’s an easy assumption to make what had happened last week caused that because I don’t agree with that,” Maddon said. “Of course I’m going to defend the Rays and the Red Sox are going to defend the Red Sox, whether it’s me or the other manger or it’s social media, whatever.
“That moment was not precipitated by last week. It was, honestly, that to me had nothing to do with what happened last week. I mean that.”
At the same time, he said the teams’ longstanding rivalry paired with their struggles this season can make for some edginess.
“We’ve been down this road with these guys for a while,” Maddon said. “We’re both at the bottom of our division. Neither one of us likes being at the bottom of our division. We’re not used to that over the last several years. There’s really a lot of pent-up emotion over the last several years, not just a couple days ago and more about today. It’s the way it is when you play each other that many times in a season.
“You’re going to have that and that’s just a part of it and you have to somewhat expect that but I still believe there’s a lot of respect flowing back and forth.”
As far as the bad blood was concerned, Price acknowledged he didn’t see an end in sight.
Asked if he expected the contempt to continue, Price said, “I’m sure it will.”Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.