BOSTON — Yankees DH Tyler Austin lost it, slamming his bat, throwing his helmet and charging at Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly.
“Come on,” Kelly said, waving Austin toward the mound.
The bad blood was back.
Another benches-clearing basebrawl between the Yanks and Sox was about to begin.
From A-Rod vs. Varitek to Pedro vs. Zimmer to Austin vs. Kelly.
So much for a dormant rivalry — with 16 more head-to-head matchups to come in 2018.
“Typical Sox-Yankees game,” Brock Holt said after the Bombers prevailed 10-7. “Four hours long (actually 3:59), could of bench-clearing brawls. We’re right on track.”
Both Austin and Kelly threw punches in the seventh-inning brawl and were ejected from Wednesday night’s game at Fenway Park.
It all started on a force play in the third, when Austin slid in late and hard into second, hooking Sox shortstop Holt, who took exception. The two exchanged words, leading to both benches clearing but no punches being thrown.
“There was no reason for fisticuffs to have to happen based on that slide at second base,” Brian Cashman said.
“There was nothing remotely dirty about it,” Aaron Boone added.
Alex Cora disagreed.
“(Austin) overslid (the bag) and his spikes were up,” Cora said.
Four innings later, all hell broke loose.
Kelly drilled Austin in the left elbow with a 98-mph fastball in a 2-1 count after throwing inside earlier in the at-bat, retaliating for the slide.
All of a sudden, Austin and Kelly were on the ground exchanging punches as the benches and bullpens emptied, sending anyone and everyone onto the field. Kelly connected more often, leaving Austin with a fat lip and a wrap on his left elbow.
“It was a clean slide and I play the game hard,” Austin said. “I felt there was absolutely nothing wrong with that slide and I had no thought that they were going to throw at me.”
Kelly, with scratches on his face, insisted the ball just got away. C’mon Joe.
Austin, though, managed to slug Sox third-base coach Carlos Febles, who never saw it coming.
“I’m just trying to defend myself out there,” Austin said. “I felt like it was intentional and I didn’t want to let anybody push myself around or do anything like that. That’s why I went out there."
Aaron Judge, playing peacemaker, essentially shielded Kelly with around 10 players on his back.
Giancarlo Stanton also played peacemaker, the two mammoth sluggers managing to move the pile with their might.
“My job was just to get Kelly up. That’s about it,” Judge said.
“Just protecting my guys, doing whatever is needed,” Stanton added.
Tommy Kahnle was also tossed, according to Boone, after one of the umpires grabbed him and pushed him, causing the righty reliever to get upset.
“He was pretty adamant that he got pushed in a way that was not right,” Boone said.
CC Sabathia, who is on the disabled list and wasn’t supposed to be on the field, knocked a pair of Sox to the ground. He will presumably face punishment from MLB for his actions.
But Boone wasn’t worried about any possible suspensions.
Cashman said he’d have to see on Thursday if everyone emerged healthy.
Third-base coach Phil Nevin was also thrown out, with Infield coordinator Carlos Mendoza taking over his post. Nevin apparently had been jawing with the Sox bench, which led to his ejection.
"I know one thing. I'm going to wear less layers tomorrow, because geez, I look fat with a sweatshirt under my jersey,” Nevin said jokingly. “I'll be freezing, but I don't want to look like that on the field anymore
Hitting coach Marcus Thames eventually got his hands on Austin and took him away from the brawl. But the damage had been done — a dormant rivalry suddenly reignited.
“I mean, what are you supposed to do when somebody hits you and then calls you out?” Cashman said.
Christian Vazquez believes the Yankees are going to retaliate — even if Boone felt like it was over.
“You know that’s coming,” Vazquez said. “So there will be something soon. If not this series, maybe in New York.”
Chipper Jones may have summed things up best.
“U slide in with ur spikes up and catch a piece, ur gonna get thrown at young fella,” Jones tweeted. “That’s how baseball works. It polices itself, whether people like it or not. That will never change. Love the spirit in both squads though. #Redsox/Yankees”
The teams are both loaded, ready to make a run at ring. The fan bases hate each other.
Now, there must be some hatred in both clubhouses, too, with the Yankees and Red Sox pretty much disagreeing on everything at this point.
Whether it escalates again on the field, we’ll have to wait and see. But we’ll definitely be watching — as the Yanks and Sox took center stage yet again, a basebrawl reigniting their rivalry once more.