Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled aside Manny Machado in the dugout tonight before his shortstop batted in the bottom of the fifth inning. He issued a warning long before the umpires got around to it.
Showalter anticipated that Royals starter Yordano Ventura would throw at Machado after getting too close in the second inning. Words were exchanged between Machado and Ventura after a fly ball to left that the wind knocked down.
It wouldn’t be the last knockdown of the evening.
Showalter’s instincts were correct. Ventura drilled Machado in the back with a 99 mph fastball on the first pitch, benches and bullpens emptied and punches were thrown. Machado appeared to land one on the side of Ventura’s face, though it may have been a glancing blow.
Doesn’t really matter. Both players were ejected and suspensions are coming.
The cooling down period following the Orioles’ 9-1 win over the Royals didn’t do much to settle Showalter, who clearly was fuming as he spoke to the media.
“I’m not happy about it at all,” he said after his club won for the sixth time in seven games and moved 13 games above .500 to tie its season high.
“I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before. That’s why I talked to him before he took his last at-bat. I think he signaled breaking ball and shook to fastball. No, I don’t like when any of my guys are put in harm’s way, especially a guy throwing that hard and having some problems with his command tonight. But not the first time. Obviously, it must be something that’s OK because he continues to do it. It must be condoned. I don’t know.”
Asked whether he was disappointed in Machado’s reaction - charging the mound and throwing a punch - Showalter offered a stern “No.”
“I wanted him actually to be aware,” Showalter said, adding that he also spoke to Machado following the game. “Don’t want him up there, you know, ambushing something because I felt like the other guy had something else on his mind. I wanted him to be aware of it.”
As far as Showalter could tell, everyone escaped injury in the melee.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “A lot of times when the adrenaline wears off ... I know the next few pitches they threw didn’t escape.”
The Orioles already are missing J.J. Hardy from the left side of their infield. Machado soon will be missing, as well.
“There’s probably going to be a suspension coming,” Machado said. “Who knows what it is? You’ve got to deal with the consequences once you cross that line. You’ve got to deal with consequences that are going to come your way. It’s going to suck that someone’s going to be down, but it’s all part of it. Part of the grind. “
Showalter appreciated how the Orioles responded once play resumed. Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis hit back-to-back home runs off Chien-Ming Wang in the fifth inning, and Adam Jones homered leading off the sixth.
“I didn’t have much doubt with how they’d respond,” Showalter said. “I thought we were already having a good game considering the type of stuff we were facing. I’m very proud of how our guys handle adversity. We’ve been on both sides of it. I think sometimes you show certain things even more when you have some things not go your way. Our guys have been good at that.
“I think what happened tonight, we’ll deal with it, just like we’re dealing with (Darren) O’Day and dealing with Hardy and dealing with (Yovani) Gallardo. Who am I missing? Caleb (Joseph). My daughter is already calling me. She’s a lawyer and she’d like to plead that, something about provocation or something she said Manny should ... She’s fired up.
“When you go through the disappointment and heartache we had in ‘14 in Kansas City, it kind of, you have to sit there and take it. I think Manny and the team decided not to take it tonight.”
Royals manager Ned Yost couldn’t decide which side was at fault tonight.
“That’s a tough question to answer,” he said. “You know, Ventura, in Manny’s first at-bat, was pitching him in. Obviously, he didn’t like it. Flew out and was screaming at Ventura. I’m thinking ‘OK, he’s going to pitch him inside again.’ I mean, looked to me like he got away (from that). I don’t know, that’s something you’re going to have to ask him but I don’t know who’s at fault there.”
If the ball didn’t slip, is it a sign of Ventura’s immaturity?
“How can I answer that question, too? I’m not going to answer that question,” Yost said. “I mean, you’re telling me if it wasn’t a slip, you want me to make an answer. I’m not going to answer that.”
Ubaldo Jimenez got the win in unimpressive fashion, holding the Royals to one run in five innings but also allowing nine hits and walking three batters. He threw 106 pitches.
“OK,” Showalter said. “I thought he was fortunate. Made some good defensive plays behind him. The end game statistically will look OK. That’s a lot of pitches in five-plus. I thought he made some pitches when he had to, but I thought he was fortunate. Had a lot of baserunners on. First guy. Made some mistakes ahead in the count that he had a chance to put some guys away with. I thought he was fortunate. We played well behind him.
“It was a strange wind. The ball Manny hit, I’ve never seen a ball react like that. That ball’s a home run. It didn’t just stay in the ballpark, it came way back. I’ve never seen a ball react like that here. It’s like it hit a wind gust. Strange wind tonight.”
The wind couldn’t deny Ryan Flaherty, who homered onto Eutaw Street in the second inning.
“I did see on the replay it bounced on the (awning),” Showalter said. “That had a lot of frustration in one (swing) because we know Ryan has some power. It was his first one, I’m sure it felt real good to him. I know it felt real good to us because we know how much it means to him and how hard he works at it.”
The series closes Wednesday night and the teams won’t face each other again until 2017 unless they collide in the postseason. Will more bad blood flow in less than 24 hours?
“Bring it on,” Showalter said. “Whatever. Bring it on. We’ll handle it. You try not to let one person’s actions speak for a lot of people, but it’s been going on a while with him.”
I’ll close this entry with a quote from Jones. You’ll find lots more clubhouse reaction on Steve Melewski’s blog on MASNsports.com:
“I knew it was going to happen,” Jones said. “You can foresee things like that. Like I said, the guy, he’s got electric stuff. The talent is all there, but between the ears, there’s a circuit board that’s off balance.
“I don’t get it. I don’t get it. He wants to be Pedro Martinez? Cool, be Pedro Martinez. Have a damn sub-2.00 (ERA) like Pedro Martinez. Don’t go out there trying to hurt somebody.”