Tempers flare in Yanks-Red Sox; Cora tossed

BOSTON — It took just one pitch Friday night for the long-simmering feud between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to experience its latest round of fireworks.

And judging from the conflicting accounts that came out of the two clubhouses following the Red Sox’s 4-1 win, it’s clear neither team can agree on one key question: Was there intent?

The intrigue began after Red Sox starter Rick Porcello went down 0-2 to the game’s leadoff hitter, Brett Gardner. On the next pitch, Gardner was hit on the left arm by a 91.7 mph fastball.

A half-inning later, Yankees starter Luis Severino buzzed a 95.6 mph fastball up and inside to Boston’s leadoff man, Mookie Betts. The outfielder (who also played some second base Friday) went down and backward, awkwardly contorting his body to get out of the way of the ball.

Immediately, warnings were issued to both teams by the umpires.

“First pitch of the game, I got a f—ing warning, it’s going to be surprising, of course,” an agitated Severino said. “I wasn’t trying to hit nobody. And not even Mookie. Mookie’s a great guy, and if I’m going to hit somebody, I’m not going to throw at their head. That’s not right.

“If I’m going to hit somebody, I’m not going to miss.”

Count Red Sox manager Alex Cora among those who isn’t buying Severino’s claim. He felt Severino was trying to get retribution for Gardner getting hit in the top of the first.

“They felt 0-2, front-door sinker had intent,” Cora said. “Well, first pitch of the game right at the head of the best player in baseball? There is intent.”

As soon as the warnings were issued by crew chief Phil Cuzzi and plate umpire Adam Hamari, Cora began shouting expletives. He appeared to be directing them at Hamari, who heard them and quickly ejected the manager from the game. It was Cora’s first ejection as a manager.

“I wasn’t very polite,” admitted Cora, who said he got a phone call from his daughter about his demeanor in the aftermath of the ejection. He continued to shout in the umpires’ faces before making his early exit.

Part of what angered Cora was the same thing that bugged the Yankees. Both teams thought the umpires were too fast in pulling the trigger on issuing the warnings.

“It was a little quick,” Yankees catcher Austin Romine said. “It definitely changed the game a little bit.”

Romine went on to back up Severino’s claim that there was no ill will toward Betts when the controversial first pitch was thrown. To him, the Yankees’ poor pitching in Thursday night’s 15-7 loss played a role in how New York needed to pitch better to Boston.

“Something is always going to happen between us and the Red Sox. It is what it is,” Romine said. “They scored how many runs last night? So we have to pitch inside. There was no intent on that. When someone puts up 15, 16 runs, you’ve got to kind of change the game plan up.

“You’ve got a guy throwing 100 mph, you’ve got to pitch them in to keep them honest.”

One inning after Cora’s ejection, Betts was forced to move from right field to second base when Ian Kinsler left the game with a strained left hamstring. Cora said Kinsler will “probably” need a DL stint.

Kinsler did not come out for the second inning after he appeared to injure himself while rounding third base and scoring during Boston’s three-run first.

Betts, who went 1-for-4 on Friday, moved back to right field before the start of the eighth inning, with shortstop Brock Holt moving over to second base.

Betts played at second base for the first time since his rookie year in 2014, when he played 14 games at the position. He was drafted as a shortstop and played primarily at second base in his first few years in the minors before transitioning to the outfield.

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