BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell, ejected after slugger David Ortiz was hit in the back by a fastball from Tampa Bay left-hander David Price in the first inning Friday night, still could not understand why Price was not immediately ejected.
Instead, plate umpire Dan Bellino issued warnings to both dugouts and to the pitcher, who was permitted to continue. Price eventually went seven innings, even though he hit another Sox batter, Mike Carp, near the shoulder area in the fourth.
“When we have four people ejected and also have three people hit by pitches, and they have none, that’s a hard one to figure out," Farrell said.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo, who took over after Farrell was ejected, was ejected in the fourth when he complained to Bellino that Price wasn’t tossed after hitting Carp, firing his cap to the ground in the process. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield, placed in charge after Lovullo was run, was automatically ejected when Bellino tossed Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman for a pitch behind Rays slugger Evan Longoria in the sixth.
“David’s a heckuva pitcher," Farrell said regarding Price. “He comes in with two hit batters and eight walks on the year. He’s got the lowest walk rate in the American League. And when he throws a ball and hits David Ortiz in the back, there is intent to that. They can dispute that all they want. There is intent to that pitch.
“As emphatic as Dan Bellino’s warning was, it sure seemed like Dan Bellino felt there was intent as well.
"I disagreed with it. He took the ball out of our hand and after Mike Carp got hit with a ball up around his neck and they didn’t make a move, then the umpires allowed this game to escalate even further."
Umpiring crew chief Jeff Kellogg spoke with a pool reporter after the game. He said that the umpiring crew had been briefed on what took place between these teams last Sunday, when benches emptied in the seventh inning after Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar stole third with the Rays ahead by five runs, then took off his helmet and took a couple of steps toward the Sox dugout when they showered him with invective.
“We all received a report on the incident that happened last weekend, and they just sent a report and said, ‘Heads up. This is what took place. Be ready for something.' "
The fact that Bellino issued warnings after Ortiz was hit, Kellogg said, was an indication that he had judged there was intent behind Price’s pitch.
“If we think that there is intent to throw at a hitter," Kellogg said, “then that’s when we’re going to issue warnings."
Price was allowed to remain in the game after hitting Carp in the fourth, Kellogg said, because Bellino did not believe there was intent.
“We felt the pitch was certainly inside, but not intentional, so that’s why he stayed in the game," Kellogg said.
Under Rule 8.02 of the Major League rules, umpires are given the discretion of ejecting a pitcher even before issuing warnings, if they feel the pitcher was intentionally throwing at the hitter. That was Farrell’s argument, that Price should have been ejected immediately.
In 2009, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, then pitching with the Angels, was ejected by plate umpire Bob Davidson after his first pitch of the game went behind Texas hitter Ian Kinsler and the second hit him in the ribs. Kinsler had homered twice the night before.
Kellogg was asked if the umpires were concerned that allowing Price to continue would lead to a point where the game might spin out of their control.
“Sure, you think about a lot of things," he said, “but part of losing control is them (the teams) losing control. We stay under control. We aren’t going to make a decision if we feel we are in the right because we’re worried about somebody losing control.
“At some point, you want to keep peace out there and you want to keep control of the game, absolutely. We weren’t going to throw [Price] out of the game to please Boston because things were getting out of control on their end."