ST. PETERSBURG -- Both benches cleared on Monday night after Red Sox starter John Lackey hit right fielder Matt Joyce in the shoulder blade with a 90-mph fastball. Lackey said he was simply "trying to come in there and get him off the plate a little bit."
Tampa Bay, suffice it to say, did not agree.
With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth, Lackey's 0-1 fastball hit Joyce. Joyce immediately flipped his bat, turned around and began pointing at and talking to Lackey, leaving no doubt he believed the plunking was intentional. Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia got in front of Joyce as they moved down the first-base line, resulting in a minor shoving match that prompted both dugouts to empty onto the field.
No punches were thrown, and no one was ejected, but there was a bit of pushing and shoving from both sides. After the dust settled, home-plate umpire Tom Hallion issued warnings to both dugouts.
Following the game, Joyce called Lackey's action a "bush league move," and manager Joe Maddon said there is no question in his mind that Lackey intentionally hit Joyce.
Joyce was asked on Tuesday if he is surprised that the incident did not escalate.
"You never know what's going to happen when benches clear," Joyce said. "Obviously, we don't have the best history with the Red Sox. I don't think anybody is trying to pick a fight or looking for that. But like I said, emotions get involved when you're playing teams from the same division and you really want to win games. Your emotions do get involved.
Joyce added that he thinks Saltalamacchia's actions were unusual as well.
"Yeah, I was a little surprised by Salty getting pretty aggressive," he said. "Most of the time, the catcher is like, 'Calm down, calm down, take your base.'"
Instead, Joyce said, Saltalamacchia swore at him.
"For him to sit there and cuss at me … I thought that was pretty aggressive," he said. "I didn't appreciate that too much."
Maddon told reporters on Tuesday that he stands by what he said after the game.
"I don't really want to go any further than that," he said. "I totally believe it was intentional. I saw the replay, and that validated my thoughts. But on their side of things, to admit that they did it on purpose would result in some kind of punitive situation, so I understand why they said what they said."
Maddon does not think the incident will lead to more trouble.
"I mean, I have not even talked to our guys about it," he said. "Listen, I want you to understand one thing. That group of Red Sox, that team of Red Sox players, I have so much respect for that group. … And I was just talking about that one guy last night."
Ironically, Maddon and that "one guy," Lackey, have been friends since their days with the Angels.
"I still consider him a friend," he said. "You don't just toss a friendship away over a moment like that. I'd be very happy to talk to Johnny. But I had to say what I said last night because I thought it was true."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.