Joe Maddon calls throwing at Luke Scott “a weak, cowardly effort”

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Benches cleared in the top of the ninth inning of last night’s Rays-Red Sox game after Franklin Morales hit Luke Scott in the leg. No punches were thrown and no players were ejected, but Rays manager Joe Maddon was pretty incensed after his team went on to win the game 7-4.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Maddon said throwing at Scott “reeks of intent” and indirectly called out the Red Sox coaching staff.

“I’m kind of curious regarding who put out the hit, because I know it wasn’t one of their players,” he said. “Truly, watch the video. The people that were incensed, obviously they’re the ones that were probably behind the effort, the really weak, cowardly effort on their part. Did I say that strongly enough? Did I make my point?”

Loud and clear, Joe. Loud and clear. It’s worth noting that Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch just three innings earlier, but Maddon insisted it wasn’t intentional because the plunking brought David Ortiz to the plate as the tying run.

Bad blood between the Rays and Red Sox is nothing new. Just last week, Matt Moore hit Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox responded by hitting Scott with a pitch. Of course, Scott isn’t a very popular guy in Boston these days after calling Fenway Park a “dump” last month. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine denied any intent at throwing at him last night, instead chalking it up to some karmic coincidence.

“Emotions boiling over at that point? Frustration mounting? I don’t know,” Valentine said. “It seemed like it was with both teams on the field. But with the guy getting hit? Maybe it was the Ghost of Fenway Past remembering that he bad-mouthed all our fans and stadium, or something, just directing the ball at his leg.”

Maddon doesn’t expect any carryover when the two teams meet up again tonight, but promised that “we will respond to others that do attempt to do it to us.”

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.