The Baltimore Orioles beat up the Kansas City Royals 9-1 at Camden Yards on Tuesday night, but the main event was Manny Machado versus Yordano Ventura.
In the fifth inning, with the Orioles leading 5-1, Ventura plugged Machado with a 99 mph fastball. Machado promptly removed his helmet, charged the mound and landed at least one solid punch to the Royals' slender right-hander before the two men went to the ground and the benches cleared.
When the dust settled, both players were ejected. Expect further reprimands, including an almost-certain suspension for Machado and likely one for Ventura as well.
Here's a clip of the altercation, courtesy of Rotoworld's Michael Gallagher:
That followed a tense moment between Machado and Ventura in the second inning, when the Orioles star paused to admire a fly ball to left that was ultimately knocked down by the wind and caught, leading the pair to exchange words.
It's possible the bean ball in the fifth was simply one that got away, but ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney didn't see it that way:
It's tough to disagree, mostly because this is far from the first time Ventura has been front and center in an on-field fracas.
In April 2015 alone, he was embroiled in a trio of incidents.
On April 12 of that year, Ventura was in the middle of a benches-clearing brouhaha in Southern California that involved a staredown at home plate with the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout.
Less than two weeks later, MLB fined him an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing at Oakland A's third baseman Brett Lawrie one day after Lawrie put a takeout slide on Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
And on April 24, 2015, he shouted an easy-to-lip-read obscenity at Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton before throwing him out at first on a comebacker. Eaton reacted, the dugouts cleared and soon fists and bodies were in motion.
You can debate the particulars of each case and assign blame accordingly. At this point, though, Ventura is the common denominator.
Writing for FoxSports.com during last April's run of controversy, David Golebiewski compared Ventura to "a WWE heel on the mound."
On Tuesday, Machado jumped into the ring.
His skipper, Buck Showalter, came as close as a manager will ever come to endorsing on-field fisticuffs, per MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli:
"Manny and the team decided not to take it tonight," Showalter added, per Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.
The Orioles' best revenge, of course, was knocking Ventura and the Royals around in the box score. After surrendering seven hits and six earned runs in 4.1 innings against the O's, Ventura's ERA sits at an unsightly 5.32.
Suddenly, the hard-throwing 25-year-old Dominican who has dazzled in stretches since his 2013 debut and drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez is looking like a guy whose talent will be overshadowed by his antics.
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones drove that point home with salt-in-the-wound precision after Tuesday's donnybrook.
"He wants to be Pedro Martinez? Cool. Be Pedro Martinez," Jones said, per Kubatko. "Have a damn sub-two [ERA] like Pedro Martinez."
MLB has already dealt with one high-profile on-field punch this season: the skull-rattling blow Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor put on Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista.
Machado was clearly the main aggressor Tuesday. Plenty of players are beaned—intentionally or otherwise—and don't charge the mound.
But this is the last thing Ventura needed as he attempts to rediscover his groove and contribute to the Royals' title defense.
He has the raw stuff to be a star. He can still tease triple digits, and Machado no doubt has a bruise to prove it.
However, as Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star noted in May, "Ventura's biggest challenges have rarely been physical or mechanical. They have almost always been mental."
That bubbled to the surface yet again Tuesday. The disturbing pattern continued.
There's plenty of season left for Ventura to get results and push the distractions aside. But if he's not careful, these ugly sideshows will keep being the main event.
Even if you derive a cheap thrill from on-field brawls, that's bad news for everyone.
All statistics current as of June 7 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.