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Did John Lackey Mean to Hit Francisco Cervelli?

With the Red Sox trailing the Yankees 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning on Tuesday night, John Lackey drilled New York catcher Francisco Cervelli with his first pitch of the frame.

Cervelli, who had homered off Lackey on a 3-1 pitch earlier in the game and followed it up with a celebration at home plate, took exception to the pitch and both benches cleared.

Lackey said after the game that he didn’t intend to hit Cervelli and was merely trying to take back the inside part of the plate:

“I was definitely not trying to hit him, I was trying to knock him down for sure,” Lackey told reporters. “Go and look at where he stands in the box, you’ve got to get him off the plate a little bit.”

Lackey is never shy to show his emotions on the mound. The righty was clearly staring directly at Cervelli as he celebrated his fifth inning blast at home plate.

Many pitchers will retaliate when they feel that they’ve been shown up, and Lackey appeared upset.

It’s worth noting that Lackey easily leads Major League Baseball in hit batsmen this year with 17. He has five more than Tim Hudson, Dillon Gee, and Fausto Carmona, who all rank second.

It’s also worth noting that the right-hander would likely never admit to the media that he was throwing at Cervelli, as such an admission could result in a suspension.

There were four players hit by pitches in Tuesday night’s game: Cervelli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jorge Posada. Only one of those incidents (Ellsbury in the first inning) occurred before Cervelli was plunked.

The home run for Cervelli was his second this season and just the third of his career. Lackey is now 12-10 with a 5.94 ERA this year and took his first loss against the Yankees in 2011.

Alastair Ingram is the featured Boston Red Sox columnist for RantSports.com. For daily updates, follow him on Twitter at @AlastairIngram, follow the blog at @RedSoxRant, and join the fan page on Facebook.