You’ve probably all heard the story by now. James Shields exacted revenge on Red Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp in the top of the 2nd inning by plunking him in the thigh. Crisp then took a few steps toward 1st base; a move he admitted was done intentionally to gain a few steps on catcher Dioner Navarro, and then charged the mound. A bench clearing brawl erupted. Rays, Shields and Johnny Gomes, along with Crisp were ejected.
This all stemmed from the prior night’s game in which Jason Bartlett blocked 2nd base with his knee on a steal attempt by Crisp. Crisp then intentionally slid cleats first into Aki on another steal play later in the game with obvious intent to injure.
I have watched all these plays several times before passing judgment on this issue but here you go:
Bartlett did as he has been taught to do. He clearly just placed he knee down to block the bag, same as a catcher would do. No intent to injure Crisp was in his actions. His knee was down long before Crisp arrived. There was nothing wrong with this play.
Crisp clearly went into 2nd base with intent to injure when he slid into Aki. He openly admitted saying he was gunning for them. This is just flat out wrong. This is NOT baseball! Crisp acted like a punk, nothing more, and nothing less.
Everyone who has ever watched a baseball game knew Shields was going to plunk Crisp. This is the unwritten rule of baseball. He did it the right way by hitting him in the thigh and not going head-hunting. Once again Crisp acted like a punk by charging the mound.
It is beyond me WHY after all this happened and warnings were issued to both teams, Red Sox starter Jon Lester hit 2 Rays, Crawford and Iwamura, threw high and tight to Floyd and threw a ball behind Aybar and DID NOT get ejected!! This umpiring crew was clearly BoSox biased through out this series!
The result of all this remains to be determined by the league front office. Who will get suspended/fined/both and for how long/how much? This is the question Ray fans need to be most concerned with. How many starts will Shields miss? Effectively he missed his start for this game by being ejected in the bottom of the 2nd inning (Crisp led off).
I understand this is an unwritten rule in baseball but I have to question the timing. Was it really necessary to do it in the 2nd inning? Couldn’t the team have said let’s win the game first then plunk him? We have essentially lost a key starter for at least 1 start I’m sure and used 5 relievers to pitch the remaining 7 innings. All this now being down 1.5 games to the Red Sox and heading into Texas and LAA. Oh yes, by the way, we did lose the game 7-1.
As far as the game itself went, we had many opportunities to score (13 LOB) but could not get the key hits when needed. The loss of Shields did not prevent us from winning this game — the non-existent offense did. For this 3 game series these are the offensive numbers:
· Hits = 24
· Runs = 6
· Strike outs = 28
· Left on Base = 28
We have had opportunity and are not getting it done. Rather than getting the key hit the opposing pitcher is getting the key strike out. They need to adjust to the umpires (albeit incorrect) strike zone and make it happen.
Off to Texas we go and hopefully our offense kicks into gear. I hope the ramifications felt by what happened will be positive for this team. I hope this brings them together as that proverbial “one team” we hear so much about. I know I’ll be cheering for them no matter what.