BOSTON -- Pressed on why he hit David Ortiz in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price had little to say.
He was asked: Do you understand why Ortiz would be frustrated?
His response: “No.”
Did Ortiz's two home runs in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS have anything to do with it?
Did you hit Ortiz intentionally?
“I’ve got to establish my fastball in.”
Will the bad blood continue between these two teams?
“I’m sure it will.”
The Red Sox and Rays still have two games left to play at Fenway Park in this series, and no doubt tensions will be high, as the benches cleared for the second time in the last six days Friday night.
Following Boston’s 3-2 win over the Rays, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz spared no punches in his criticism of Price, adding afterward, “It’s a war. It’s on.”
However, in the Rays clubhouse, where frustration toward Boston was second to frustration toward losing a fourth consecutive game, the team was more focused on putting Friday night’s drama behind them and starting fresh on Saturday.
“I’m just hoping that it calms down and we can get back to playing baseball,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Hopefully we’re beyond it and we can get back to just worrying about the game on the field and nothing else.”
Having had a Brandon Workman 89-mph cutter sail behind his head in the sixth inning of Friday’s game, Longoria, who shooed his teammates back to the bench after several took notable exception to the pitch, chose not to criticize any of the Red Sox players' actions. In fact, he said he wished Workman’s pitch would have hit him so that the score could have been evened right there.
“I’m right there with [Ortiz] in saying that it’s game on when we go out there,” Longoria said. “We’re all fierce competitors and trying to win the game.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon echoed a similar message, citing familiarity as a reason contempt has bred between the two teams.
“We’ve been down this road with these guys for a while,” Maddon said. “There’s really a lot of pent-up emotion over the last several years, not just a couple of days ago, nor just about today. That’s the way it is when you play each other that many times in a season.”
Maddon added, “We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow. There’s going to be no animosity from us to their side.”
So was the even-keeled Maddon surprised to hear that things weren’t as calm on the Red Sox side following Friday’s game?
“I would never be surprised,” he said. “If you’re part of the Red Sox Nation, you’re appalled by our behavior tonight and if you’re part of the Rays Nation, what’s the big deal?”