It didn’t take long for one of baseball’s best rivalries to reignite in 2018.
Perhaps still stinging from a 14-1 beatdown on Tuesday, Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin clipped Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt with an aggressive slide in the third inning. Benches briefly cleared following the incident, but cooler heads prevailed — until the seventh inning, that is.
When Austin came up in the seventh (after a four-pitch strikeout in the fifth), Boston reliever Joe Kelly promptly plunked him in the ribs and sparked an all-out melee.
After the game, members from both sides weighed in on the incident (which will surely end with suspensions and fines for some players).
Kelly denied throwing at Austin on purpose, saying the ball slipped: ““It was a pitch that got away on a cold night. … I walk a batter per inning. It’s not like I have Greg Maddux command,” he remarked.
Yankees slugger defended his teammate, saying the slide wasn’t dirty at all. He also criticized the Red Sox for not doing something about it on Austin’s next at bat, if they felt so aggrieved.
"That wasn't a dirty play. The cleats caught. You don't need to drill him for that, and if you're going to do it, do it on the first pitch." – Giancarlo Stanton
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 12, 2018
It was a sentiment shared by new Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who told reporters there was “nothing remotely dirty” about Austin’s slide in the third inning. He also said he has “no issue with” Austin charging the mound after being beaned.
Austin himself defended the slide, calling it a normal, hard-nosed baseball play.
“I felt like my slide into second base was a clean slide,” Austin said. “I play the game hard. I thought there was nothing wrong with that slide. I had no thought that they were going to throw at me.”
Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who now works as a TV analyst for the MLB Network, also chimed in. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who is no stranger to the heated Boston-New York rivalry, applauded Kelly for throwing at Austin.
The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would’ve hit Tyler Austin at his previous at bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly #YankeesvsRedSox
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) April 12, 2018
The best part of all this is that the two teams still have to play one more game against each other this week. While Boone told reporters “I think it’s probably over with,” after the game, Red Sox players aren’t convinced.
“You know that’s coming,” Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez told Ian Browne of MLB.com. “They feel like us. The clubhouse is our second home. It’s wanting to protect our home. So it will be something soon. If not this series, maybe in New York.”
The teams will finish up a three game series Thursday night in Boston at 7:10 PM (EST), in case you want to tune in for the dramatics.