The benches cleared twice at Fenway Park on Wednesday night as the storied Yankees-Red Sox rivalry got red hot on a cold, raw April-night in Boston. 

It started in the third inning with the Yanks ahead 5-1. Tyler Austin was forced at second base during a sacrifice bunt attempt. Austin slid hard and arguably a little late, and while he didn't stray from the base-path, he did go in 'spikes up' and part of his cleat caught the leg of Sox second baseman Brock Holt. Holt took exception and said something to Austin. The two exchanged words and the benches cleared, no punches thrown.

When Austin came to the plate in the seventh, on a 2-1 pitch, he was drilled in the ribs by a fastball from reliever Joe Kelly. Austin slammed the bat at home plate in anger, took a few steps toward Kelly on the mound - Kelly basically gestured 'come get some' with his hands, and it was on from there!

The benches and bullpens cleared once again, this time for an actual fight. (see video)

Kelly, Austin, Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle and Yanks' third base coach Phil Nevin were ejected.

Additionally, there seemed to be some jawing, or at least hand gesturing, between the two coaching staffs after the dust settled.

Boone defended Austin's slide after the game, saying he didn't think it was 'dirty'.

Frankly, the author of this post agrees. Austin's slid was hard, and certainly not friendly, but I didn't think it was dirty. And, per the new league slide rules adopted in 2016, this wasn't illegal - had it been, the umps would have ruled an automatic double-play.

I should also note that I don't think it was 'out-of-line' for the Sox to bean Austin, if they felt it was dirty.

Afterward, Yanks Manager Aaron Boone said, via ESPN, 'It's probably over.''


Is he kidding? I hope he is.

In my opinion, someone on the Yankees' staff has to retaliate, and in the series finale on Thursday, not in six or eight weeks, or at some date to be determined later this summer.

It is part of the game - if you think a team was unfair, or dirty, or out of line to one of your players, you have to stand up for your guy. Which is why I understand Kelly's beaning of Austin.

I know this isn't hockey where guys lawfully exchange punches on ice as a way to settle personal scores or perceived offenses by the opposing team, but putting a fastball in an opponents backside has been an acceptable part of the game for decades - I dare say for over a century.

I'm not advocating for, or saying 'head-hunting' is okay, but beaning a guy's butt or back certainly is.

We'll see how Boone and company handle things in the series finale.

Oh, and they also played and completed the game on Wednesday, a 10-7 win for the Yankees, avenging Tuesday's 14-1 embarrassment at Fenway.

Gary Sanchez led the Yanks with two home runs and four RBI, while Giancarlo Stanton added three hits and three RBI.

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