BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re bored by baseball these days, perhaps you could use a little more “bad blood” between teams to add some excitement to the sport. The Red Sox and Orioles have shown plenty of it so far in what looks like a budding rivalry between two of the AL East’s top contenders.
The Orioles travel to Fenway Park for a four-game series against the Red Sox starting Monday night. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the teams’ weekend series in Baltimore that was rife with controversy – including Matt Barnes’ fastball that zipped behind the head of the Orioles’ Manny Machado and earned him a four-game suspension.
Machado helped spark the incident with a bad slide that injured Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the first game of the series. Pedroia had an animated exchange with Machado between the Sox dugout and O’s on-deck circle some time after the Barnes pitch, which appeared to be intentionally thrown at Machado. Pedroia could have potentially caused a rift between himself and his teammates when he disagreed with the decision to throw at Machado, but he later assured everyone that all is well in the Red Sox clubhouse.
But is all well between the Red Sox and Orioles?
WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti spoke about the upcoming Red Sox-Orioles series on Sunday’s Sports Final. Massarotti believes that some bad blood must still exist between the two clubs, but sees the O’s waiting for the right opportunity to get revenge for Barnes’ pitch behind Machado rather than plunking someone right away.
“I don’t think it’s over,” said Massarotti of the animosity between the Red Sox and Orioles. “I don’t know that the Orioles will come out in the first game of the series and try to exact any sort of revenge or retribution. But I would think that if there’s a game somewhere in there that gets lopsided either way, and the Orioles have a chance to take a shot, I think you might see that.”
Mazz added that there could also be nothing that comes out of the series, but it just doesn’t seem like these two teams particularly like each other.
Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez was also asked about the Machado incident, and didn’t disagree with the decision to try to intentionally hit him with a pitch. He just would have hit Machado in a safer spot.
“The only thing I would have done differently [with Machado] was bring the ball a little lower, but everything else was the nature of baseball,” said Pedro. “I think it’s something that’s going to happen. It’s part of baseball.
“Hopefully it won’t linger around for too long, or nobody will make it personal.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t sound terribly interested in getting retribution for the pitch to Machado when asked about the incident after the conclusion of the series.
“I really respect the courage our players had today,” said Showalter, via the Baltimore Sun. “The courage it takes not to retaliate a lot of times in life is a lot more challenging than doing what ended up happening today.”
Monday night will provide the first indication of whether Showalter changed his mind. But regardless of whether the Orioles try to get revenge on the Red Sox, it’s clear that these two teams aren’t exactly friendly.
Projected starters for Red Sox-Orioles:
Monday: Rick Porcello (1-3, 4.75 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (3-1, 1.65 ERA)
Tuesday: Chris Sale (1-2, 1.19) vs. Alec Asher (1-0, 2.16)
Wednesday: Drew Pomeranz (2-1, 4.15) vs. Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50)
Thursday: Steven Wright (1-3, 8.25) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 7.43)