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.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.