It was pretty clear in the home clubhouse last night that the Orioles players had no doubts about two things: Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura threw at Manny Machado, probably two or more times, hitting him once, and that Ventura left Machado little choice but to charge the mound.
Of course Machado could have done nothing, but that was certainly not an appealing option. Ventura threw two pitches in his direction in the second inning and drilled him with a 99 mph fastball that had clear intent in the fifth inning.
If that was Ventura’s reaction to Machado jawing at him from earlier in the game, he overreacted. If that was Ventura’s reaction to the Orioles scoring five early runs off him, then that was incredibly lame. Pitch better next time.
Machado is not without some blame here. He has lost his cool before, but this time he was provoked. And as many networks showed as part of their highlights last night, Ventura also drilled Machado last Sept. 12 at Camden Yards. This all didn’t start just last night.
But when asked if the Orioles previously had issues with Ventura before last night, Machado did not say yes.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I have no idea if there was (history). They are the defending World Champions and we are trying to take it away from them. They have a great team. Tempers flare at times and that is what good teams do, they react to things and leave it all on the field. As long as we leave it on the field, that is all that matters.”
Machado was asked if the benches-clearing incident could derail an O’s team that has won six of its last seven games.
“I hope it doesn’t. Could be the opposite. Lit a firecracker to the team and we go out there and continue to keep playing baseball. We come out tomorrow and try to win a ballgame,” he said.
Adam Jones didn’t hold back last night in discussing Ventura. Among his comments, he said: “I knew it was going to happen. The guy has electric stuff and the talent is all there, but between the ears, there is a circuit board off balance. I don’t get it. I don’t get it.
“He wants to be Pedro Martinez. Cool, be Pedro Martinez. Go out there and have a damn sub-2.00 (ERA) like Pedro Martinez. Don’t go out there to hurt somebody, that is what Pedro didn’t do. So hopefully the league catches on to it. I’ve got Manny’s fine and the rest is history. Manny is not at fault for nothing. You get hit with 95 or 98 (mph) and see what you do.”
You can read a full story on the postgame comments from last night here.
Jones also spoke about the Orioles hitting three homers after the brawl and winning a blowout game 9-1.
“We played the hell out of the game. Ubaldo (Jimenez) battled through some jams and we had some good defensive plays. I’m happy with the win,” Jones said.
Somehow last night, before all the fireworks, Jimenez allowed two or more baserunners in each of his first five innings and he allowed a leadoff double in the sixth - yet gave up just one run. Kansas City went 1-for-11 against Jimenez with runners in scoring position.
“I guess I was able to get back with the sinker, throwing it down in the zone. That was something I hadn’t been able to do the last four or five games. I minimized the damage. I think that is what we did tonight,” Jimenez said.
He felt despite all the baserunners and threats that K.C. mounted against him, the outing was a step forward for him.
“Yeah, it is. Especially after the last game. I knew I really had a tough last inning. The guys gave me a lot of support - physically, emotionally, everything. It was good to finally break out of that slump,” he said.
The Orioles hit four homers last night, including one by Ryan Flaherty onto Eutaw Street. They have hit seven homers in this series, 18 over the last six games and 50 in the past 28 games. In winning six of their last seven games, the Orioles have scored 53 runs. They are 34-23 to match a season high by going 11 games over the .500 mark.
Boston won at San Francisco 5-3 in 10 innings to remain a half-game behind the Orioles for the American League East lead.
After last night, some questions will probably soon be answered. Will these teams have any issues in tonight’s game? Will Machado be suspended and for how many games? Will last night’s events have any lasting impact for the team or will it soon be another footnote in a long season?
Should the Orioles win tonight, they will have their first three-game home sweep over Kansas City since May 24-26, 2011.