The Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers may play in separate divisions, but their rivalry is quickly becoming one of the most heated in all of Major League Baseball.
The two teams squared off for the final time of the 2016 season Sunday and engaged in a brawl in the top of the eighth inning after Jays outfielder Jose Bautista executed a late slide into Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor. Odor's throw to first went way wide, but neither team seemed too concerned about the errant toss after Odor punched Bautista in the face.
MLB provided a clip of the incident:
Justin Smoak—who hit the ground ball and was running to first when Bautista slid into Odor—was eventually called out because of interference on the play. The Rangers won the game at Globe Life Park, 7-6.
MLB shared the list of ejections in the aftermath:
Ejections from Jays-Rangers incident: Rougned Odor, Steve Buechele, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, DeMarlo Hale, Jesse Chavez.2016-5-15 22:36:33
"I didn't really think it would cross their mind to do something like that, but I guess it shows a little bit of their colors," Bautista told reporters after the game, per Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
"He got me pretty good, so I have to give him that," Bautista added. "But it takes a little bit of a bigger man, I guess, to knock me down."
At The Buzzer noted it wasn't Odor's first time being involved in a brawl during a game, having been part of a fight during a minor league contest:
Years before punching Jose Bautista in the face, Rougned Odor ignited a benches clearing brawl in the minors. https://t.co/qJyDRwH7WP2016-5-16 19:46:47
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that "word going around is [Odor] is likely to get about an eight-game ban." Heyman noted Odor "may well appeal" if he's given that type of suspension.
MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre told reporters Monday he expects to reveal the suspensions for the brawl Tuesday.
Bautista is no stranger to controversy and bad blood with the Rangers. The two teams squared off in the American League Division Series last year, and the slugger drilled a critical go-ahead home run in Toronto's 6-3 win in Game 5. The Blue Jays overcame a 2-0 deficit in the series and advanced to the American League Championship Series, but it was Bautista's pronounced bat flip that left some upset.
Despite Bautista's playoff theatrics, Bill Baer of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk said the first matchup between these two teams this season "was completed without incident." That was far from the case Sunday.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters the Rangers were "'gutless' for throwing at Bautista in his final [at-bat] in their final game," per Chisholm, while third baseman Josh Donaldson said Texas "took 'the easy way out,'" according to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star.
Rangers star Adrian Beltre offered a simple assessment of the brawl, per Fox Sports MLB: "A pitch got away from Matt Bush, and they took it the wrong way."
Baer described the timeline of events that led to the brawl, which started when Rangers pitcher Matt Bush hit Bautista with a pitch in the eighth inning. The two teams were warned, but Bautista came in with the late slide anyway, sparking Odor's retaliation.
Toronto pitcher Jesse Chavez then hit Prince Fielder with his first pitch in the bottom of the eighth, which cleared the benches once again.
Toronto ace Marcus Stroman didn't hide his feelings on Twitter:
Marcus Stroman @MStrooo6
Zero respect for Odor. Never had respect for him, never will.2016-5-15 22:24:55
Free-agent outfielder Cody Ross would later reply to Stroman's tweet:
Cody Ross @IamCodyRoss
If you have such a problem with him then do something about it next time you face him. Don't talk about it. https://t.co/PxdJnKIK0D2016-5-16 03:23:22
Baer speculated that "Odor is likely looking at a lengthy suspension and a fine. Bush, Bautista and Chavez at the very least are also likely looking at suspensions and fines."
Unfortunately for those baseball fans who enjoy the rivalry, there won't be any more fireworks between the two sides this season—unless they both reach the playoffs again.