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Rays–Red Sox rivalry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rays–Red Sox rivalry
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
First meetingJune 12, 1998
Fenway Park
Red Sox 5, Devil Rays 1
Latest meetingJuly 14, 2022
Tropicana Field
Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Next meetingAugust 26, 2022
Meetings total446
Regular season series243–203, Red Sox
Longest win streak
Current win streak6, Rays
Post-season history

The Rays–Red Sox rivalry is a Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox clubs. The rivalry intensified in 2008, after the two clubs had their first postseason meeting in the ALCS. Since then, both teams have won the American League (AL) East division a combined seven times in the past 13 years. While the rivalry is more recent than the storied Yankees–Red Sox rivalry, it has been called one of the most competitive in modern baseball.[1][2][3]


1998–2007: First meetings

After years of trying to lure a major league team, Tampa Bay was awarded an American League franchise in 1998. The Devil Rays would become the first expansion team to join the AL East since the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977. Their record that year was dismal, winning only 63 games. The Red Sox were far more successful, finishing 92-70 and taking a Wild Card berth; they took the season series against the Devil Rays 9-3.

One bright spot for Tampa was third baseman Wade Boggs who, while batting .280/.348/.400 in 1998, turned out to be one of the most productive players on the team. Boggs' relationship with Boston was complicated; an eight-time All-Star with the Red Sox, his signing with the New York Yankees in 1993 earned him the scorn of some Boston fans, who booed him on his return to Fenway Park.[4] Even after leaving New York to sign with the Devil Rays, Boggs continued to be met with boos in Boston.[5] Boggs was also at the center of a controversy when rumors emerged that he had negotiated a bonus with the Devil Rays that would require him to request depiction in the Hall of Fame wearing a Devil Rays cap (though he denied the claims); he was ultimately inducted on the 2005 ballot wearing a Red Sox cap[6] Boggs' number 12 was retired by the Rays in 2000, and his number 26 was retired by the Red Sox in 2006.

The teams' first confrontation came at Tropicana Field on August 29, 2000, when Devil Rays leadoff hitter Gerald Williams was hit by a pitch thrown by the Red Sox' Pedro Martínez. Williams charged the mound and landed a right hook on Martinez, leading to a benches-clearing brawl that ended with the ejection of Williams and manager Larry Rothschild (while Martínez remained in the game). Over the course of the game, six more Devil Rays were ejected (including three pitchers who threw at Red Sox batters in retaliation). For his part, Martínez would end up taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning.[7][8] The brawl was not forgotten, however. When Tampa beat the Red Sox on September 29 and eliminated them from playoff contention, Devil Rays closer Roberto Hernandez sarcastically waved goodbye to the struck-out Trot Nixon and the rest of the Red Sox team while the Rays celebrated on the mound.[9]

Early into the next season, an incident occurred where Nixon threw his bat at Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe, who had hit the Sox' Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand earlier in the inning. Red Sox pitcher Frank Castillo would go on to hit Devil Rays batter Randy Winn, after which the plate umpire issued warnings to both dugouts. Nixon and Castillo were suspended four and five games, respectively, while Rupe got away with a fine.[10]

Brawls between the clubs would continue throughout the 2000s, even as the Devil Rays struggled while the Red Sox made four postseason appearances through 2007 (including two World Series titles, in 2004 and 2007). In 2005, the Red Sox hit Aubrey Huff, and the Devil Rays retaliated by throwing at Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, causing a melee in which six players and both managers were ejected.[9] The next day, Boston pitcher Curt Schilling made comments on a radio show criticizing Tampa manager Lou Piniella: "When you're playing a team with a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played, there's problems [...] Lou's trying to make his team be a bunch of tough guys, and the telling sign is when the players on that team are saying, 'This is why we lose a hundred games a year, because this idiot makes us do stuff like this.'" Piniella responded by saying, "If we're going to get thrown at, we're not going to tolerate that, either."[11] In 2006, Red Sox pitcher Julián Tavárez, covering home plate, stepped on the arm of Devil Rays baserunner Joey Gathright and then punched him, inciting another brawl and earning him a ten game suspension.[12]

2008–present: The rivalry intensifies

The Devil Rays rebranded themselves as the Rays before the 2008 season. That same year, their on-field fortunes would dramatically improve, bringing them into further conflict with the World Series-champion Red Sox. The anger between the teams was crystallized by a series of incidents in a June series, after Boston center fielder Coco Crisp slid hard into Tampa second baseman Akinori Iwamura; the next night, Rays pitcher James Shields drilled Crisp, inciting a benches-clearing brawl.[13] In September, the Rays would win their first series at Fenway—something Peter Gammons called "a turning point in franchise history"—finishing the year with a 97-65 record and, displacing the heavily favored Red Sox, their first AL East title.[3] Boston, having secured a wild card berth, met Tampa in the 2008 American League Championship Series. The Rays gained a 3-1 series lead, including a walk-off sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton in Game 2, but Boston came back (winning Game 5 after being down 7-0) to send the series to a seventh game. However the Rays won Game 7 3-1 in St. Petersburg, eliminating Boston and sending Tampa to its first World Series (which it would lose to the Philadelphia Phillies).

Though both teams failed to make deep postseason runs the following year (which saw the shared division rival New York Yankees win the World Series), the rivalry remained alive. The Rays recaptured their AL East title in 2010, while the Red Sox would be shut out of the postseason for the next two years. In 2011, Boston and Tampa were tied in a Wild Card race that came down to the last day of the season. Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford (a former Rays All-Star) missed a fly ball to lose their game against Baltimore Orioles; Rays star Evan Longoria would go on to hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees to secure the Wild Card berth, and eliminate the Red Sox from playoff contention.[3] Crawford was traded to Los Angeles the next year, after which he would call the environment in Boston "toxic."[14]

In 2013, though, Boston saw a resurgence headlined by Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia (as well as former Ray Jonny Gomes). This year also saw several altercations. On June 10, Rays batter Matt Joyce exchanged choice words with Red Sox pitcher John Lackey after being thrown out at first, and benches cleared after Lackey hit Joyce in his next at-bat. On July 29, after a controversial Rays victory where umpire Jerry Meals incorrectly ruled a tying run out at home plate, the teams traded barbs on social media, with the Red Sox Twitter account saying it looked forward to playing "home games" at Tropicana Field in September (in reference to the Rays' notorious attendance issues).[15][16] The teams met in the 2013 ALDS, which Boston won 3-1; the Red Sox would go on to win the 2013 World Series against St. Louis.

Confrontations continued into the 2010s, even as the Rays declined and ceded ground in the AL East to Toronto and Baltimore. Brawls erupted in two games of the 2014 season, on May 25 and May 30, leading to several ejections.[17][18] On July 27 of the same year, Rays pitcher Chris Archer took exception to a home run celebration by David Ortiz at Tropicana Field, saying the Red sox slugger acted like he was "bigger than the game of baseball" and that Ortiz felt "like the show is all about him." Ortiz dismissed Archer's comments, saying the young rookie was "not the right guy to be saying that" since he had "only two days in the league." In the wake of the episode, manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the friction between the teams, saying "What did Don Drysdale say to the last guy he knocked down on his butt back in 1963? Nothing. He didn't say anything [...] Those kind of thoughts are kind of insinuated, put in play. Play the game."[19]

Boston won another World Series title in 2018, while Tampa again failed to make the postseason (despite posting a 90-win season). This was because the Red Sox had 108 wins for the division title, while the Wild Card spots went to the Yankees (with 100 wins) and the Athletics (with 97).

The next season, the situation was reversed. Tampa secured a Wild Card berth while Boston, the reigning WS champion, was shut out of the postseason. The Red Sox also failed to make the postseason in the shortened 2020 season, while the Rays won the division and the American League Pennant (though they lost to the Dodgers, headlined by former Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, in the World Series).

The Rays again won the division in 2021, with Boston defeating New York in the Wild Card game to meet Tampa in the Division Series. Several controversies erupted during the series. including after rumors emerged that the Rays, having won the first game at home 5-0, had ordered champagne for an expected series victory at Fenway Park. The Red Sox's Alex Verdugo said the move was disrespectful.

The first game, they’re over there eating popcorn, sitting on the field, chilling, talking. And then also, they’re telling the guys to get the champagne ready here and already ordering the stuff over. Just that little bit of disrespect like, ‘Wow, really? You guys think you’ve got it in the bag like that?’[20]

Another controversy emerged in Game 3, when a batted ball from Ray Kevin Kiermaier was misplayed by Boston outfielder Hunter Renfroe and knocked into the bullpen, out of play. The play, which otherwise would have resulted in a go-ahead run for Tampa in extra innings, was ruled a ground rule double; Boston walked it off in the bottom of the inning.[21][22] Boston also won Game 4 with a walkoff home run to move on to the ALCS. The last two games of the series were Boston's first set of back-to-back walk-off wins in the postseason since the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Leitch, Will (August 3, 2021). "Baseball's best rivalries right now, ranked". MLB. Archived from the original on January 23, 2022. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  2. ^ Scott, Nate (July 30, 2013). "The Red Sox and Yankees are no longer the best rivalry in the AL East". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 13, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Peter Gammons (October 21, 2021). "Gammons: The Rays-Red Sox rivalry is hotter than you may realize, and it's only getting better". The Athletic. Archived from the original on October 14, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  4. ^ Jennifer Frey (May 22, 1993). "BASEBALL; Like Old Times: Boggs Goes 4 for 4 as Red Sox Wins". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 20, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  5. ^ Marc Topkin (June 13, 1998). "Boggs booed again". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on February 20, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  6. ^ Muder, Craig (January 6, 2005). "Boggs, Sandberg field queries as new Hall of Famers". USA Today. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  7. ^ "That time Pedro hit Gerald Williams and what made him so great". Fox Sports. January 8, 2015. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Ron Chimelis (May 31, 2014). "Forget the Yankees - Red Sox-Rays is baseball's hottest rivalry". The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts). Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Is Red Sox-Rays the Most Underrated Heated Rivalry in Baseball?". Bleacher Report. 2013-06-11. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  10. ^ "Players Association appealing both suspensions". ESPN. May 9, 2002. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Nick Cafardo (April 27, 2005). "Schilling and Piniella exchange barbs". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 20, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  12. ^ Gordon Edes (March 28, 2006). "Tavarez: one strike, one brawl". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  13. ^ "Benches clear after Coco Crisp hit by James Shields". USA Today. June 5, 2008. Archived from the original on March 29, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  14. ^ Hernandez, Dylan (February 13, 2013). "New  Dodger Carl Crawford was bummed in Boston". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  15. ^ "Jerry Meals Admits to Blowing Call at Home Plate, Says Daniel Nava Should Have Been Safe". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Red Sox, Rays Engage In Twitter Fight After Shift In AL East Standings". CBS Boston. 2013-07-30. Archived from the original on 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  17. ^ "Tempers flare in Rays-Red Sox series finale". 2014-05-25. Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  18. ^ "Farrell, Lovullo, Workman, Butterfield ejected". 2014-05-30. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  19. ^ Gordon Edes (July 27, 2014). "Archer takes offense to Ortiz's bat flip". ESPN. Archived from the original on March 11, 2022. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  20. ^ John Tomase (October 12, 2021). "Rays' champagne plans in Boston lit fire under Red Sox". NBC Sports. Archived from the original on October 19, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  21. ^ Mastrodonato, Jason (October 10, 2021). "Red Sox beat the Rays fair and square, but not without the bounce of a lifetime". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on October 11, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  22. ^ Topkin, Marc (October 11, 2021). "Ground-rule double in 13th causes confusion". Archived from the original on October 11, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  23. ^ "Red Sox heading to ALCS with walk-off win over Rays". New York Post. October 11, 2021. Archived from the original on February 6, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
This page was last edited on 16 July 2022, at 00:24
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