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.”

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.