Morning Sports Update

‘That was weird’: Red Sox players confused by benches-clearing moment vs. Blue Jays

"I think it’s unwarranted, the way that they reacted."

Nick Pivetta Blue Jays
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez holds back Nick Pivetta after he hit Alejandro Kirk. Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP

The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays 6-5 in 10 innings on Wednesday night, avoiding a sweep in Toronto. Boston now heads to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs in a three-game series starting tomorrow at 2:20 p.m.

Red Sox players on the benches-clearing moment from Wednesday’s win: In the bottom of the third inning of Wednesday’s Red Sox win over the Blue Jays, Boston starting pitcher Nick Pivetta hit Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk with a pitch.

The incident eventually caused both benches to clear, though no brawling ensued.

According to Blue Jays players, they took exception with Pivetta hitting Kirk due to what they viewed as a response to the latter’s recent success in the batter’s box (Kirk is hitting .526 over the last seven days with a 1.644 OPS, and has been hit by three pitches over the last 28 days).

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“He’s been hit up there a couple of times recently,” Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah told reporters. “In the heat of the moment, the team doesn’t want to see your own guy get hit. It’s not to say [Pivetta] did it on purpose or anything, but it’s just a really sensitive area up there. As a team, we’ve got Kirky’s back all day and we’re playing extremely competitive baseball right now.”

In the aftermath of Kirk being hit, Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. exchanged words with Pivetta. And when Guerrero left his own dugout, it caused the escalation that led to both benches clearing.

“I don’t know. He was yelling at me,” Pivetta said after the game. “I didn’t think it was necessary for him to come out and start screaming at me. So that got me fired up and everybody else got fired up. That’s about it.”

Pivetta added that he was not trying to intentionally hit Kirk.

“I think it’s unwarranted, the way that they reacted,” he explained. “I think it’s spare parts, for lack of a better term. I’m trying to win a baseball game.”

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Luckily for both teams, the situation was quickly resolved, leaving Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo to contemplate the strange circumstances of the whole affair.

“I actually ran over there, I was talking to Bo [Bichette] about it afterward,” Verdugo said. “I was like, ‘That was weird, man.’ I like a lot of those guys over there. It felt weird. By the time we got over there, it was already de-escalated, and we basically used it to say, ‘What’s up?’ to the bullpen and some guys on the bench. It was a little weird.”

Trivia: Can you name either of the only two Canadian baseball players in the Hall of Fame?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: One pitched for the Red Sox from 1976 through 1977. The other lost to the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.

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Trivia answer: Ferguson Jenkins, Larry Walker

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