Benches cleared in the bottom of the sixth inning in tonight’s game between the Red Sox and Rays after John Lackey hit Matt Joyce in the back with a pitch.
Joyce, who homered off Lackey in the first inning, immediately suspected intent and began gesturing toward the mound. As Evan Drellich of MassLive.com notes, the errant pitch may not have been in retaliation to the home run, but instead to Joyce “styling” on a foul ball in the second inning. But that’s just speculation for now.
Joyce was restrained by catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia as both benches emptied. No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored, but warnings were issued to both sides.
Lackey was pulled from the game after giving up a double to the next batter Ben Zobrist, but left-hander Craig Breslow was able to snuff out the rally. The Red Sox hold a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.