Nothing gets your competitive juices flowing like September baseball games against a team you're directly battling for playoff positioning.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays kicked off a crucial five-game series at Rogers Centre on Monday and the opening contest lived up to its billing with plenty of drama.
Things started to get heated in the bottom of the sixth inning when reigning American League Player of the Week Bo Bichette was hit by a pitch close to his face. The Blue Jays' star shortstop slammed his bat in frustration before taking first base. Bichette told reporters after the game that he "saw his life flash before his eyes" on the play.
Francisco Mejia led off the top of the seventh inning for the Rays and was quickly plunked by Jose Berrios, prompting the umpires to issue a warning to the two teams.
With a pair of hit batsmen on the ledger, the two coaching staffs began exchanging vulgarities, with Blue Jays manager John Schneider and pitching coach Pete Walker getting into it with Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder from across the diamond. It's safe to say these guys won't be going out for dinner any time soon.
Bo Bichette and Francisco Mejia were both hit-by-a-pitch in back-to-back innings
After the umps got together, the coaching staffs were barking at each other pic.twitter.com/6oCuquvcsl
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 13, 2022
The fireworks didn't stop there, as Bichette returned to the plate in the eighth inning and delivered a go-ahead two-run home run that barely squeaked over the outfield fence as the Blue Jays secured a 3-2 victory in the series opener. The soft-spoken Bichette insisted he wasn't seeking vengeance when he stepped to the dish.
"No revenge," Bichette said while suppressing a smile in his post-game interview with Sportsnet's Hazel Mae. "Not really worried about that, just trying to get a winner for the team."
There will surely be several more dramatic moments between the two AL East and wild-card rivals over the next four games, beginning with Tuesday's doubleheader. Toronto enters the day leading Tampa Bay by half a game in the standings.
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