The intrastate rivalry between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers just got turned up a notch.
During the ninth inning of Saturday evening's 7-6 Rangers win at Minute Maid Park, Astros catcher Hank Conger and Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor exchanged words at home plate as Odor prepared to step into the batter's box to lead off the game's final frame.
MLB.com passed along video of the altercation, which resulted in the teams' benches clearing:
According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, Conger intimated that he wasn’t pleased with Odor’s approach to the plate appearance:
Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman—who spent eight seasons with the Rangers and received the loss on Saturday—told reporters he didn’t see the need for Odor’s actions, according to McTaggart:
Neither Conger nor Odor was ejected, and the Rangers actually used Odor's leadoff triple to jump-start a two-run inning that allowed Texas to pad its lead.
All told, Odor finished the evening a double short of the cycle after bunting for a single in his first at-bat before launching a two-run home run to right field in the third inning.
However, Conger got a bit of revenge in the bottom of the ninth, when he hit a two-run homer—his sixth of the season—in order to cut the deficit to one.
While the Rangers (43-47) got the win, they're still 5.5 games back of the Astros (50-43) for second place in the AL West. If Texas can string together a few more wins as July comes to a close, though, the fireworks between the two sides may just be beginning.
The Houston Chronicle’s Jose de Jesus Ortiz noted that Saturday night's fracas could be a sign of things to come:
"It’s good to see some rivalry baseball rear its head a little bit," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, per McTaggart.
With the Astros eyeing their first playoff appearance since 2005 and Texas seeking to snap a two-year postseason drought, the intensity is set to ramp up when the Rangers and Astros clash throughout the remainder of the season.
And after the sides split the first two games of the weekend set, a shot at series victory Sunday afternoon should provide a platform for more drama.