Posted on June 8, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
For the second time in less than a month, there was a benches-clearing brawl on a Major League Baseball Field. Last month it was Rougned Odor punching Jose Bautista following a hard slide into second base, heating up an existing feud between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers. On Tuesday, it was Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado charging Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura after being hit by a pitch.
The incident took place in the 5th inning when Ventura hit Machado in the back with a 99 mph fastball. Without much hesitation, Machado started moving towards the mound, actually limping for the first couple of steps, as he still felt the pain of being hit by the ball. While Machado was trying to shake off the pain and make a move towards the mound, Ventura had time to take off his glove and hat and put his fists up, preparing for a fight with Machado.
Machado threw the first punch before Ventura appeared to get leverage on him and throw him to the ground. The two appeared to be entangled in a wrestling match on the ground just off the pitcher’s mound as the two teams came flooding out of their respective dugouts. After the benches cleared, Machado and Ventura were eventually separated from one another without any major misconduct from anyone else participating in the melee.
Both Machado and Ventura were ejected from the game, which the Orioles ultimately won 9-1. Afterwards, Ventura claimed he hit Machado unintentionally. “Everybody knows what kind of player he is,” he said through an interpreter. “One just got away and he came at me, and I have to defend myself at that point.”
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter saw things differently. “I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before,” Showalter said. “That’s why I talked to him before he took his last at-bat. I wanted him to be aware of it.” The Orioles skipper added that he was not disappointed at the way Machado reacted to getting hit.
Earlier in the game, Ventura had thrown two pitches inside to Machado. That at bat ultimately ended in Machado being retired on a fly ball, although afterwards the two exchanged words on the field. Machado said after the game that charging the mound the way he did is “part of the game.” He explained, “Reactions fly. When somebody’s throwing 99 at you, it’s going to hurt. You can ruin someone’s career. You don’t think in that situation. You just react to it.”
Neither player involved is a stranger to on-field incidents. This was Machado’s fourth ejection of his career. For Ventura, it was his third ejection. Last year, Ventura had a similar incident with Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox that resulted in the benches clearing and Ventura being suspended for seven games. Both players are likely to face suspension for Tuesday’s incident.
The Orioles and Royals will conclude their three-game series Wednesday night, when we will see if there is any spillover from Tuesday night. Unless MLB is quick to act with a suspension, Machado will likely be in the lineup with Baltimore going for the sweep. The Orioles have won three in a row, putting them back into first place in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Royals are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, taking them out of first place in the AL Central.