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A rivalry (finally) renewed

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 31, 2011 12:59 AM

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Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Red Sox and the Yankees used to really hate each other. Carlton Fisk must roll his eyes when he sees David Ortiz hugging Robbie Cano before games.

The teams are rivals and the games are intense. But there hasn't too much fire lately.

No punches were thrown tonight. But there were some sparks.

With the Yankees up 3-2 in the fifth inning, John Lackey fell behind No. 9 hitter Francisco Cervelli 3-and-1 and left an 88-mph fastball over the plate. Cervelli drove the pitch over the Monster Seats for his second home run of the season and the third in 472 major league at-bats.

Cervelli smacked his hands together enthusiastically as he crossed the plate, something Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia took offense to. Lackey stared at Cervelli until he went into the dugout.

“He was pumped for that [third] home run of his career,” Lackey said. “I thought it was a little excessive, honestly.”

Said Saltalamacchia: “He’s done a lot of that stuff. … He likes to get excited. That’s fine. As far as the clapping goes, yeah, it could have been a little much. You don’t show anybody up. You play the game the way you play it. You’ve got to stay in your boundaries.”

In any other sport, a guy clapping his hands together would barely raise an eyebrow. But in the vast unwritten rules of baseball, such things are frowned on. Most players around the league, even some Yankees, think Cervelli gets a little too excited, especially for somebody who hasn't accomplished much.

When Cervelli came up again in the seventh inning, Lackey’s first pitch hit him in the back. It was Cervelli who took umbrage this time and the benches briefly cleared. Cervelli and Saltalamacchia had to be pulled apart.

“I don’t remember,” Cervelli said when asked what he and Saltalamacchia were saying. “A lot of Spanish, because at that moment, I forgot my English.”

“Obviously it was heated,” Saltalamacchia said.

But no punches were exchanged, only words with CC Sabathia being particularly vocal while pointing at Lackey.

“I didn’t like it,” said Sabathia, who said he was in the dugout for the at-bat when normally he would have been in the clubhouse.

Yankees pitching coach Rothschild was ejected at the end of the dust-up.

Lackey claimed he didn’t intend to hit Cervelli, only knock him down.

“You can see where he stands in the box. You’ve got to get him off the plate a little bit,” said the righthander, who leads the majors with 17 hit batsmen. “I was definitely not trying to hit him, but I was definitely trying to move him back.

“I’ve been fined twice this year for hitting guys this year and I paid them because they were right. But this one? I’m not afraid to tell you if I was trying to hit somebody. I would have told him to his face.”

The Yankees didn’t see it that way.

“[Cervelli] got drilled in the back after he hit a home run,” Joe Girardi said.

“It looks a little weird,” said Cervelli, who came around to score in the inning.

Cervelli later pumped his fist wildly after reliever Boone Logan struck out Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.

“That’s Cervelli,” Cervelli said. “I never try to do anything to any hitter; it’s just me.”

The teams play again tomorrow night. Will there be peace or more action? Let's see who's pitching for the Red Sox ... why it's Josh Beckett. Interesting.

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