Even before Sunday's game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, the two ball clubs weren't exactly on the best of terms.
Tensions between the AL division rivals has been high ever since last season and, specifically, the moment Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista flipped his bat in the divisional playoff series between the two teams back in October 2015.
Things reached a whole new level yesterday, however, with Bautista at the center of things again. A hard slide which saw him connect with Texas second baseman Rougned Odor at the top of the eighth innings was quickly followed by Odor landing a sucker punch direct to Bautista's face. From there, all hell broke loose.
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Odor's punch wouldn't look out of place in a boxing ring but, in fairness to Bautista, he does well stay on his feet after being taken by surprise by the unexpected blow.
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Unsurprisingly, both players were ejected from the game by officials. After 10 minutes of brawling and confrontation between virtually the entirety of both team's benches, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Rangers coach Steve Buechele were also given their marching orders.
When all was said and done at the end of the game, eight players and coaches in total had been ejected from the game for numerous offenses.
Speaking after the contest, Bautista admitted to having been caught by surprise by Odor's punch.
"I mean, obviously, that's the only reason that he got me," he said, via ESPN. "And he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down."
He also explained his hard slide, saying he was letting the Rangers know he didn't appreciate being targeted by a fastball by Matt Bush.
"I had a hard slide at second base. I could have injured [Odor, but] I chose not to," Bautista said. "I tried to send a message that I didn't appreciate getting hit [by the pitch]."
MLB officials will likely be handing down further punishment in the next day or two, but Texas' manager Jeff Banister tried to downplay the whole scuffle as the outcome of a competitive game:
"These are two ball clubs that obviously are playing hard to win baseball games and are emotional," he said.
"But as far as what happened inside the scrum out on the field, there were a lot of things going on. We could sit here for the next hour and talk about that, but I don't have that time. I've got a bird to catch."
Oh, and in case anyone cares, the Rangers won the game 7-6.
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