Crisp (seven games), Shields (six) draw largest suspensions

NEW YORK -- A day after the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays tangled, Major League Baseball struck back: Eight suspensions totaling 38 games.

Boston outfielder Coco Crisp and Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields were the hardest hit Friday, the result of their fight turning into a wild, bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park.

Three Red Sox were suspended: Crisp for seven games, pitcher Jon Lester for five games and first baseman Sean Casey for three games.

Five Rays were penalized by MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson: Shields for six games, DH-outfielder Jonny Gomes and pitcher Edwin Jackson for five games each, outfielder Carl Crawford for four games and second baseman Akinori Iwamura for three games.

All eight players also were fined undisclosed amounts. The Red Sox and Rays have often clashed in the past, and their latest outburst came during Boston's 7-1 win Thursday night.

"I want to be very clear: I defend everything our guys did," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Friday night's game at Texas. "I feel actually proud of the way we handled the situation that was presented."

The starting dates of the suspensions were staggered, so as to not leave either team short-handed.

Crisp, Shields and Gomes all appealed their penalties, which were set to start Friday night. They can play until the appeal process is complete.

Lester, suspended for throwing a pitch at a Tampa Bay hitter after a warning had been issued, did not appeal.

Crawford was set to start serving his suspension Wednesday, Jackson on June 13, Casey on June 14 and Iwamura on June 17.

"Obviously, we want to balance the days out. They've done that, but we want to see if we can set it up a little different," Maddon said.

"We'd like to see a few more of their guys suspended. They started it, but we had more guys thrown out," he said. "The perpetrator's crime is way too close to us."

The Red Sox were home against Seattle on Friday night. The Boston clubhouse had already closed when the suspensions were announced.

Major baseball brawls in recent years have resulted in multiple suspensions.

• In August 2006, eight suspensions were handed out after Texas and the Angels tangled. Managers Buck Showalter and Mike Scioscia, five players and a coach were penalized.

• In May 2000, 19 members of the Dodgers -- 17 players and two coaches -- were suspended after they climbed into the stands at Wrigley Field after a fan allegedly stole catcher Chad Kreuter's hat.

• In April 2000, 13 players were suspended after Detroit and the Chicago White Sox got into a pair of bench-clearing brawls. In addition, managers Jerry Manuel and Phil Garner and a coach were penalized.

With first place in the AL East on the line, tempers started to flare again between the Rays and Red Sox on Wednesday night after Crisp made a hard slide into Iwamura.

Then on Thursday night, Crisp was hit in the right hip by Shields in the second inning. Crisp rushed the mound, ducked a wild right by Shields and mayhem ensued.

"I don't regret anything," Shields said.

Gomes charged from the dugout, throwing punches at Crisp.

"My suspension, five games, I guess is deserved," Gomes said. "You leave the dugout and try to inflict punishment by punching someone, you're going to get fined."

Gomes served a one-game suspension this year for running in from right field to tackle the Yankees' Shelley Duncan during a brawl in spring training.

"It's definitely not the way I want to leave my mark as a player. It's my second offense. I'm sure that had something to do with it," Gomes said.

Crisp, left with a scratch on his forehead and right cheek, said Crawford tried to pull his hair during the pileup. After the game, Crawford didn't deny he might've done it. Crisp, Shields and Gomes were ejected.

"More of our guys participated. Or our guys got caught on tape," Crawford said.

Said Jackson: "It's nothing to be proud of. It's not some big accomplishment."

"The only way to explain it is instincts and reaction," he said. "It wasn't as if I was out there doing something dirty."

Often eliminated early, Tampa Bay is fighting with Boston and New York this year -- on and off the field.

"With the Red Sox it was more caused by dirty play during the game. With the Yankees, I don't know," Crawford said.