“I know he was getting a lot of heat from us, so I was sympathetic to him while also being upset,” Boone said. “And I didn’t mean that in any means in a demeaning way. It was more just, ‘I know we’re all over you here and it’s early in this game, but I thought it was important to make a statement there.’”
Asked if he thought Boone went too far with Miller, Gerry Davis, the umpiring crew chief, said: “You’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes, so yea. So yes, he did.”
The Yankees made another one in the second game, but without any ejections, beating the Rays, 5-1. They leaned heavily on their bullpen after using Chad Green as an opener; Voit smashed a fifth-inning home run against Charlie Morton, the Rays’ All-Star right-hander, and a Morton balk with the bases loaded punctuated a four-run sixth in which the Yankees took the lead
While the Red Sox have been the Yankees’ longtime rival in the American League East, the second-place Rays have been their true adversary this season. The Red Sox have turned their season around after a slow start but remain in third place in the division. And the Yankees, who hold an eight-game lead, are 12-5 against the Rays this season, compared with 6-1 against the Red Sox.
Several times this season and last, tensions have flared during a game against the Rays. C.C. Sabathia was suspended five games this season because of an incident in which he threw at Rays catcher Jesus Sucre. He was also involved in a benches-clearing dispute this week with Rays outfielder Avisail Garcia that both Sabathia and Garcia ultimately chalked up to a misunderstanding.
“It’s two good teams battling for the division,” Sabathia said. “The games are going to be intense. There’s no love lost.”
A lot could change by the next meeting between the Yankees and the Rays: a two-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the final week of the season. The division race may have already been decided, but if the Rays have climbed into the A.L. East lead, it won’t be because they beat the Yankees themselves.