The Rays and Red Sox are getting ready to rumble in the ALCS this Friday. It's their first postseason matchup, but the teams have a long history of fighting that dates to the start of the decade. Here's a recap.<br><br>One day after his hard slide took out Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp found himself on the receiving end of a James Shields fastball. Crisp charged the mound, and, as the benches cleared, dodged a roundhouse punch from Shields. When the fight was over, Shields, Crisp and the Rays' Jonny Gomes were ejected. Eight players were suspended.
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Julian Tavarez, Joey Gathright
After an eighth inning play at the plate, late in spring training, Sox reliever Julian Tavarez punched Rays outfielder Joey Gathright in the head. Both benches cleared and shoving and jawing ensued. After the game, Gathright said Tavarez "hits like a woman."
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Manny Ramirez homered one pitch after nearly being plunked in a game that saw beanings, near beanings and six ejections. In the seventh inning, Rays pitcher Lance Carter nearly hit Ramirez before throwing a pitch over the head of David Ortiz, the next batter, bringing players out of both dugouts. In the bottom half of the inning, the benches cleared again when Arroyo hit Chris Singleton. After the game, Ortiz talked about the game and the pitch that almost hit his head: "That's dangerous. I think they need to stop the hitting thing."
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Curt Schilling, Lou Piniella
Two days after the multiple beanings, Sox pitcher Curt Schilling blasted Lou Piniella, saying Piniella is "a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played" and claiming Rays players referred to their skipper as "this idiot." In response, Piniella said that he had "forgotten more baseball" than Schilling knew and called it a "cheap shot."
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Boston's Bronson Arroyo hit Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez, prompting retribution from the Rays' Scott Kazmir, who then nailed Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar in consecutive at-bats. Both benches cleared, and Kazmir and Rays manager Lou Piniella were ejected.
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With the umpires on notice from MLB about the simmering tension between the clubs, Sox pitcher Derek Lowe and manager Grady Little were ejected after Lowe hit Felix Escalona during the first game. Rays pitcher Lee Gardner and manager Hal McRae were tossed the next night after Gardner plunked Lou Merloni. Umpire Jerry Crawford said: "[MLB] feels it is one of the more serious situations going on in the game today."
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Tampa pitcher Ryan Rupe hit Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand in the first inning of a game that got ugly fast. One inning later, Trot Nixon's bat "slips out" of his hand and flies toward Rupe, earning Nixon a four-game suspension. Boston pitcher Frank Castillo later hit Randy Winn, and garnered a five-game suspension of his own.
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Roberto Hernandez, Trot Nixon
A month after the Williams-Martinez brawl, Tampa's Roberto Hernandez struck out Trot Nixon to eliminate the Red Sox from postseason contention. He then waved goodbye to them from the mound. "They're going home," Hernandez said after the game. "They don't have to worry about any playoffs now. They can stop watching now. Scoreboard's over. Goodbye."
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Pedro Martinez, Gerald Williams
On his way to a one-hit, 8-0 shutout, Pedro Martinez plunked Tampa outfielder Gerald Williams with his fourth pitch of the game. Williams charged the mound, shoved the Red Sox hurler, and was the first of eight Rays ejected from a contest that saw two bench-clearing skirmishes, four hit batters, punches thrown and two Boston players in the hospital.
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