Tempers flare between Indians, Rays in Tampa this weekend

Cleveland Indians C/1B Victor Martinez has one simple rule for opposing pitchers that throw inside on him during an at-bat: If you throw at his head, he will go after you. And evidently his pitching staff also has his back, as Tribe closer Kerry Wood threw two inside pitches on Tampa Bay Rays OF B.J. Upton that began a brief scrum in the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s game.

The beanball war began on Friday night, as Martinez thought Rays lefthander J.P. Howell was purposely throwing at his head. After ducking away from a high and tight fastball, Martinez began yelling (click here to see video) at Howell before home-plate umpire Greg Gibson stepped in to calm the situation.

After the game, Martinez explains his side of the incident:

“I don’t like that, throwing at my head,” Martinez said. “If you want to hit somebody, [throw at] a different spot. But don’t throw at the head.”
Howell shrugged off the whole incident.
“I was just pitching, man, playing ball,” he said. “I mean, whatever. I threw a pitch in. Whatever. Where the ball was, if his face was in that area, you make up your own mind what you think. I just threw a pitch barely in, a little up. And whatever. He didn’t like it. I don’t know what that is.”

After the first two pitches went behind and inside to Upton, Rays manager Joe Maddon got into a shouting match with Martinez before both benches emptied. Maddon felt Wood was intentionally throwing at his player in retaliation to the incident in Friday’s game. The Indians have denied the accusation.

These two teams meet again in Cleveland for a four-game series beginning on May 25. Stay tuned!

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