07/05/08 11:49 PM ET
Rivals tie HBP record
Yankees, Red Sox equal all-time high of seven plunkings
By Willie Bans / MLB.com
The HBP (hit by pitch) statistic in the box score read "7" after the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Five batters were hit -- Boston's Manny Ramirez got dinged three times -- and the seven HBPs tied the all-time mark for one game.
And with as many painful, but free, passes to first base, one would think tensions would rise. Not so.
Umpires didn't issue a single warning, and afterward, both teams agreed there was no ill intent or purposeful plunkings.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera hit two batters -- Ramirez was one -- in the process of loading the bases in the ninth, a jam he got out of by surrendering just one run and recording his 23rd save. He said he was trying to work the inside of the plate, but the balls got away.
New York starter Mike Mussina, who hit Ramirez twice, offered an alternative explanation.
"The ball wasn't cutting like it usually does, and then he drilled two guys just to make sure we tied the record," Mussina said jokingly. "He knew we were close. He just wanted to make sure he tied it. I've never seen that many guys hit in a ballgame.
"Nobody got warned and the game was still well-played, even with that happening."
The pitches were more offspeed breaking balls, so they were likely less painful than a high-90s fastball.
"The sinker was just, at times it was good, and then we missed a few," Red Sox starter Justin Masterson said. "Like [Alex Rodriguez] and [Jose] Molina getting hit were just sinkers that just slipped out."
Molina said there was no particular reason why Ramirez was hit more.
"It's one of those things where the balls slipped out of the pitcher's hand and hit him," Molina said. "And the balls weren't hard anyway. It was missing and barely got them. They know we never tried to hit anybody."
Rivera said he doesn't know if he's ever hit two batters in one inning. Red Sox manager Terry Francona doubted Rivera wanted such an addition to his career numbers, which span 14 years.
"I don't think we questioned their intent, let alone our own," Francona said. "We were just trying to get them out, and I don't doubt they were. I'd be willing to bet if you ask Mariano, he wasn't real happy about putting more people on base."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.