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A heated rivalry brewing?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 10, 2007 06:29 PM

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Something tells me Red Sox-Tiger games are going to be amped up quite a bit in the upcoming season after today's 7-6 Sox win. Anytime you see benches and bullpens emptying, when a veteran closer purposely throws at a key hitter (J.D. Drew) and gets tossed by the umpire, you know there's a little bad blood.

The Tigers and Sox are set to meet again May 14-17 at Fenway. It appears these two American League powerhouses will be right in the thick of things.

While Brandon Inge said it was "water over the bridge" after both teams made their points, you can bet there'll be lingering feelings. Even though it didn't appear that Josh Beckett was trying to hit either Gary Sheffield in the first inning, or Magglio Ordonez in the third, or Inge in the fourth (when the ball hit his bat for a foul), the fact is the Tigers felt they had to protect their turf and Jones went after Drew.

Drew said "After the second one I was a little curious on what was going on. There were a lot of people in the stands. Josh was a little erratic. It's one of those situations where I understand where their side is coming from. By no means is he out there trying to hit anybody. He hit a couple of guys with breaking balls. Sometimes you just scratch your head when things like that happen in baseball. Jason [Varitek] was a little frustrated because he knows what Josh is trying to do," Drew said.

Umpire Larry Vanover backed Beckett, indicating he didn't think Beckett was throwing at anybody, but did feel Jones intentionally tried to hit Drew.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland was noticeably irked after the game and would not comment on anything pertaining to the dispute on the field. He ripped into a writer for trying to persist with questioning and accused him of trying to "stir up [expletive]."

Later in the game, Sox hurler Travis Hughes hit Chris Shelton with a pitch in the eighth inning, but there were no further incident.

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