Red Sox-Tigers beanball war could escalate later in season

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Red Sox-Tigers beanball war could escalate later in season

DETROIT -- The Red Sox and Detroit Tigers don't exactly have a long, angry history with one another.

Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, they usually only play two series per season against one another.

But when the two teams meet again at the end of May at Fenway, it could get interesting.

Adrian Gonzalez was drilled in the ribs by Detroit reliever Phil Coke in the eighth inning and Gonzalez believed it was in retaliation for Matt Albers hitting Prince Fielder is the lower leg in the late innings of Saturday's 10-0 shutout by the Tigers.

Fielder had homered twice in that game. Gonzalez had hit a two-run homer in his previous at-bat in the sixth inning Sunday.

Coke's first pitch sailed behind Gonzalez, which Gonzalez didn't think much of. But then the next one got him in the ribs, prompting a warning to both dugouts by the umpires.

"I'm not a big fan of warnings because you take away the immediate retaliation of it," said Gonzalez. "You know it's going to happen. We've all got seven more years here. It might not happen the next series, but eventually it's going to happen."

Gonzalez didn't believe Albers was intentionally going after Fielder Saturday, noting that there were two strikes at the time.

"It didn't even cross my mind (that Albers was going after Fielder)," said Gonzalez. "I just think it's a bad call on their end because now it's putting (Miguel Cabrera's) and Prince's careers at risk. You know it's going to happen eventually."

Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

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Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Word of Branch's punishment stemming from a positive marijuana test became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, apparently. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster behind Branch if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. And he stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.