Benches clear as Red Sox's Chris Martin takes exception to Brewers bunting on him

"Maybe they don't think they can get a hit or whatever"

Tempers flared at Fenway Park during Sunday's matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. Benches cleared, but there was no pushing and shoving and no punches thrown in the confrontation.

The dustup began after the top of the seventh inning when Boston reliever Chris Martin covered first base on a ground ball by the Brewers' Christian Yelich. As Martin walked back to the dugout, he said something to Milwaukee first base coach Quintin Berry that compelled Berry to respond angrily.

Dominic Smith attempted to calm Berry down, then Martin turned back to confront the coach. That provoked plenty of other Red Sox and Brewers to run on the field and get involved.

No players or coaches were ejected. The Red Sox eventually won the game, 2–1, salvaging one victory in the three-game series from the NL Central-leading Brewers and improving their season record to 27–26.

However, Martin was asked about the incident afterward and revealed what flared up tensions on the field. The nine-year veteran does not like opposing batters bunting against him.

"I probably said some things under my breath," Martin told NESN. "Heat of the moment, they bunted twice ... I didn't like it. I know it's part of the game, but it is what it is. I let 'em know."

Martin was then asked why he has such an issue with bunting. Does he feel disrespected by batters attempting to get on base that way? He acknowledged that maybe it's a compliment, then got in a dig at the Brewers.

"Maybe they don't think they can get a hit or whatever," he added. "I feel like, in this league ... swing the bat."

Martin allowed one hit in his scoreless inning of work, but he clearly didn't like that the hit came on a bunt single. Perhaps he was more irritated when the Brewers followed up with another sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second base in a 1–1 ballgame.

But the 6-foot-6 pitcher — "Big Rig," as teammate Jarren Duran calls him — may just not like having to run off the mound and bend to the ground to field a bunt. Maybe it's not mano a mano, as Martin seems to believe. But as he said, bunting is also part of the game, so his response looks like an overreaction.

Martin is having a good season for Boston, striking out 22 batters in 20 1/3 innings with seven earned runs allowed (3.10 ERA). Keeping a competitive edge over things like hitters bunting on him might be a key to his success.