09/11/2002 7:44 pm ET
MLBeat: Rays upset with rulings
By Bob Bellone / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Devil Rays have lost all eight games they've played against Boston this season at Tropicana Field.
On Tuesday night, the Red Sox earned at least a split of their current four-game series at Tampa Bay with a 12-1 victory. They took a commanding 12-2 lead in the season series into Wednesday's rematch at the Tropicana Dome.
But those aren't the only reasons Hal McRae will be relieved to see the Red Sox heading toward the airport Thursday evening.
The Devil Rays' manager is simply tired of explaining that there no longer is bad blood running between his team and the Sox.
McRae was ejected from Tuesday's game after relief pitcher Lee Gardner entered in the eighth inning and made Lou Merloni the third Boston batter to be hit by a pitch in the game.
Red Sox manager Grady Little was thrown out of Monday's series opener after Derek Lowe, his starting pitcher, hit Felix Escalona twice.
Ironically, the umpires warned both teams before the series began that the league is determined to crack down on a beanball war touched off two years ago by Pedro Martinez, Wednesday's starting pitcher for the Red Sox.
Both managers insist that all five incidents of hit batsmen in this series were unintentional.
Jerry Crawford and his umpiring crew aren't convinced.
"It all goes on the two clubs," Crawford said. "They created their own problems, and they have had a lot of friction. The bottom line is it's up to us four guys to control 50 out there, and there's not a whole lot of things you can do in order to control them."
McRae also would like to see better control from Devil Rays pitching staff.
"Our pitchers hit everyone," he said. "I told Jerry to go in and look at the stat sheets, at the number of batters we hit. We are not trying to hit anybody, but we are trying to pitch inside."
The Rays lead the Major Leagues with 83 hit batters. They are on pace to set an all-time record with 94, one more than - you guessed it - the 2001 Red Sox.
Notes: Tampa Bay hitters rank 25th in baseball, yet they are first with the bases loaded at .382 (42-for-110).
Aubrey Huff has hit safely in 17 consecutive games. A base hit Wednesday night to give him a share of the club record set by Quinton McCracken in 1998.
Fantasy Edge: Huff has hit .435 (30-for-69) during the streak, currently the longest in baseball.
Bob Bellone is a freelance contributor to MLB.com and is based in Tampa. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.