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Rays' Lowe: We have 'bigger things' to worry about than fighting Yankees

Mike Carlson / Major League Baseball / Getty

Tempers flared between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees on Sunday, but it doesn't appear the Rays are sweating anything their division rivals might throw their way.

The trouble started in the eighth inning when Yankees reliever Albert Abreu plunked Rays star Randy Arozarena with a 95.5-mph sinker on a 3-1 count. Arozarena showed his frustrations by yelling at Abreu and needed to be restrained, prompting both teams to clear the benches. While the gathering was heated, no one was ejected.

Moments later, Arozarena stole second base before swiping third and then began jawing with Abreu. The incident led to the benches clearing for a second time. Despite taking several minutes to sort out, neither side threw a punch again.

Arozarena eventually scored on Brandon Lowe's double, giving Tampa Bay a 7-4 lead that held up as the final score. Lowe took a bit of a shot at the slumping Yankees postgame in the wake of Sunday's events.

"Looking at it, it's a last-place team against a team that's in contention. (They're) trying to ignite something over there - whatever. Not worth our time at this moment," Lowe told Bally Sports' Tricia Whitaker. "We're focused on bigger things right now than worrying about a little on-field scuffle. We need each game, they're not really in each game.

"If they lose a guy (to suspension from a brawl), it's not going to be quite as big of a deal as when we lose one of our guys," Lowe added, according to Newsday's Erik Boland.

The Rays were likely frustrated by the amount of HBPs they've taken from Yankees pitchers. New York plunked four Rays hitters Sunday - including a fastball off Isaac Paredes' head in the fifth - and issued six over this weekend's series. In total, they've hit 12 Rays in 13 games this year.

"It's a scary moment when any player gets hit with a mid-90s fastball, certainly in the head like Isaac did," Rays manager Kevin Cash said, per Bally Sports Rays. "Is (Yankees pitcher Ian Hamilton) trying to hit him (Paredes) on purpose? No, I'm very confident that he did not. That doesn't make it less scary, though."

Whether Hamilton's pitch that hit Paredes was intentional remains in question, but the right-hander seemed ready for more action with the Rays, even if his opponents have moved on.

"If they want to come over here, they can come over here. I wish we had another game against them," Hamilton told Bryan Hoch of

The Rays and Yankees have developed a heated rivalry in recent years, starting with a few incidents during the 2020 campaign. The teams also had multiple on-field skirmishes between them last year.

Sunday was the final regular-season meeting between the clubs in 2023, with Tampa winning the season series 8-5.

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