The benches and bullpens cleared in the 8th inning of the Rangers and Blue Jays game on Sunday afternoon after a hard Joey Bautista slide into second base led to good, old-fashioned base-brawl.
Before players from either team could intervene, Rangers second-baseman Rougned Odor landed a hard punch square in Bautista’s cheek, knocking off his helmet and sunglasses.
The Jays and Rangers, remember, met in last season’s playoffs, during which Bautista unleashed the most controversial bat flip in MLB history. Sunday’s game marked the final meeting between the two teams this season, and when Bautista came to the plate in the 8th he was promptly beaned in the ribs by rookie pitcher Matt Bush.
On the next play, as the Rangers tried to turn a double-play, Bautista flew into second base with a late slide. Odor and Bautista came together, which was a big mistake for Bautista:
Here’s a closer look at Odor’s punch. It certainly looks like he’s spent some time working the heavy bag:
A replay of Bautista’s slide also made it appear that Odor was going for his head with his throw to first-base:
Benches immediately cleared, some more punches were thrown, and several players on both sides were ejected. Later in the game, the Jays retaliated and hit Prince Fielder.
After the game ended (the Rangers won, by the way), the conversation shifted toward the various violations of baseball’s unwritten rules. Bautista’s bat-flip (itself a violation of the unwritten rules in the eyes of some) happened seven months ago, and yet the Rangers evidently hadn’t gotten over it. They waited until their final meeting of the regular season to send Bautista a message, though, which the Jays especially did not like because it prevents them from being able to retaliate later on in the season.
What’s more, the Rangers were ahead by just one run when they went after Bautista. Putting him on base could have cost them the game, which — again — feels like a lot considering this entire episode goes back to something that happened seven months ago.
Bautista gave Odor credit for the punch, though it was pretty back-handed:
Expect Bautista and Odor to both be suspended.
If we’re lucky, these two teams will meet again in the playoffs.
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