It’s common these days to see the benches and bullpens empty when tempers flare on the diamond. It’s much less common (thankfully) that we see an actual fight occur as a result of these gatherings, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday in Anaheim.
A Wild Sunday Afternoon in Anaheim
After Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker was hit by Angels starter Andrew Wantz’s pitch. Both dugouts had already been warned the previous inning when Wantz threw behind Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez. When Winker was plunked on the thigh with a 91 mph fastball in the second inning, Winker wasn’t happy, and neither was M’s skipper Scott Servais who was yelling at the home plate umpire from the visitor’s dugout that Wantz should be ejected.
On the broadcast, the brawl sparks when Winker appears to charge in the direction of Angels’ interim manager Phil Nevin near the Angels’ third base dugout. The chaos that lasted nearly 20 minutes ensued from there, with actual haymakers flying between the two AL West rivals.
When the dust settled, Mariners skipper Scott Servais was ejected from the game along with Jesse Winker, Julio Rodríguez, and Eugenio Suarez. On the Angels’ side of things, Phil Nevin, Andrew Wantz, Raisel Iglesias, and Ryan Tepera were ejected.
Mariners starter Marco Gonzales called the Angels’ decision to throw behind Rodríguez and hit Winker, which the M’s believe stemmed from reliever Erik Swanson missing with a fastball that got close to Mike Trout’s head in Saturday’s game, classless:
“They sent their message (throwing behind Rodríguez), I thought that was more than enough. To hit another guy after that, they showed us who they are,” Gonzales said.
“My only comment is it’s classless. To throw at Julio, who’s a kid, over something that happened last night when we were trying to win a ballgame in the ninth inning … it’s just classless to come out and change your pitcher before the game. It’s clear. The intention is clear. They knew what they were doing.”
Phil Nevin chalked the heated exchanges up to two clubs playing each other eight times in roughly a week. Scott Servais didn’t buy that line of reasoning, and Raisel Iglesias launched a tray of sunflower seeds across the field after both sides had returned to their respective dugouts. It was all just pretty wild.
The wild didn’t stop there, though! You might recall a young fan in tears at Petco Park in San Diego last summer when Joey Votto was ejected early in a game between the Padres and Reds for arguing a check swing. The Girl, seven-year-old Abigail Courtney, was a rabid Reds living on the West Coast who went to Petco Park to watch her favorite player, Joey Votto.
After a video from Abigail’s mother made the rounds on social media, Votto made things right by getting Abigail an autographed ball and tickets to another ballgame where the two would meet.
One year and eight days later, Abigail and her family were in Anaheim to see former Reds Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez play for the Mariners against the Angels. Once again, Abigail’s favorite player, Winker, was ejected early. It was the most ironic case of déjà vu that you could have scripted if you tried.
There was a happy ending again, thanks to the power of social media, and Jesse Winker was Door Dashed a pizza for his troubles. Stephen J. Nesbitt covers Major League Baseball for The Athletic and wrote up the autograph for Abigail and mid-game pizza delivery late Sunday night.
Yankees-Astros Wild Weekend
The Houston Astros and New York Yankees got together in The Bronx this weekend for a potential ALCS preview, and oh boy, did it live up to the hype!
On Thursday night, the Astros led the Yankees 6-3, heading into the bottom of the ninth inning before the Yanks scored four to come from behind and walk the ‘Stros off in the first game of the series. Aaron Judge delivered the walk-off single, which is important because it wasn’t his last act of late-innings heroism this weekend.
Justin Verlander stymied the Yankees on Friday (7.0 IP, 1 R, 4 H) as Houston topped New York and evened the series up at a game a piece.
Astros pitching dominated the story again on Saturday when Christian Javier, Héctor Nerris, and Ryan Pressley teamed up for a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 Astros victory.
“A no-hitter is pretty special either way, anywhere you do it,” said Ryan Pressly on Saturday. “The fact that it was in Yankee Stadium, that’s a really good lineup over there. Those are some good hitters. It’s special, but I think if you throw a no-hitter, in general, it’s going to be special.”Via Brian McTaggart/MLB.com
The Astros then no-hit the Yankees for six innings on Sunday afternoon until Giancarlo Stanton crushed a seventh-inning home run into Monument Park to end the no-hit bid and shutout. The series ended the way it began on Thursday night, though, with Aaron Judge sending the Yankee Stadium crowd home happy:
The Yankees and Astros split their four-gamer this weekend in New York, and it was every bit as entertaining as we hoped it would be.
“These two teams, we’re going to be seeing each other a lot down the road,” Aaron Judge said after his walk-off three-run home run on Sunday. “We’ve seen each other a lot in years past in the Postseason. You look forward to these weekends, playing good teams and seeing where you stack up.”Via Bryan Hoch/MLB.com
Sign me up for seven games of that this fall.
Odds and Ends …
- Bryce Harper was hit by a 97 mph fastball on Saturday night, breaking his thumb, dealing a significant blow to the Philadelphia Phillies, who have awakened since Joe Girardi was fired. Despite a ligament tear in his right elbow Harper has done nothing but hit this season, and he was on pace for another NL MVP award, hitting .318 with a .984 OPS, 15 home runs, 166 wRC+, and 2.7 fWAR.
- The first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft was finally called up to the major league nine years after being taken at the top of the draft. Appel joined the Phillies last summer after being out of baseball since 2018. Philadelphia called Appel up this weekend, but he is yet to make an appearance for the Phillies.
- After their big weekend series, the Yankees and Astros sit atop the newest power rankings over at MLB.com. The suddenly red-hot Cleveland Guardians have cracked the top ten for the first time this season after winning seven straight series heading into the weekend.
- Dylan Cease topped his 11 strikeout performance last week with a 13 strikeout performance on Sunday and now leads MLB in strikeouts (121) and K/9 (13.14).
- LSU Baseball is hiring Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson as its new pitching coach, according to Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball. Johnson has spent the past four seasons with the Twins. The Twins confirmed the news in a press release this morning, announcing that Thursday’s finale in Cleveland will be the final game for Johnson before he departs for his new job at LSU.
- The star power in Anaheim is nuts.
- Freddie Freeman returned to Atlanta this weekend and got emotional when the Braves fans showered him in applause on Friday evening before the series got underway.
- Then Freeman gave the Dodgers the lead in the 10th inning on Sunday night with this RBI double!
- By the way, Clayton Kershaw was quoted saying that he hopes Los Angeles isn’t second fiddle for Freeman in reaction to Freeman being overwhelmed by the ovation he received from Braves fans, which is just a weird thing to say. Freeman spent 12 seasons in Atlanta, won a World Series, and started a family there. He’s been in LA for less than 100 games. In the grand theme of things, the Dodgers are second-fiddle, and Kershaw’s comments had a jealous girlfriend vibe.
- Anyways, we’ll wrap things up today with this absolute GAS by Brusdar Graterol (102.5 mph):