And all this on the Lord’s day.
Bench-clearing altercations broke out in Cincinnati and Toronto on Sunday afternoon, as enough batters were hit that they wanted to hit back.
First, Stateside: Both benches and bullpens cleared and there was some shoving in Cincinnati after Brandon Phillips was hit by a pitch by Pittsburgh left-hander Tony Watson in the eighth inning.
The Pirates were leading 3-0 — the game’s final margin — when Reds reliever Pedro Villareal hit All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the top of the inning. Watson appeared to retaliate by hitting Phillips in the bottom of the inning, prompting both teams to leave their dugouts and bullpens and gather between the mound and the plate.
No punches were thrown, but the fight rekindled twice before order was restored. Pirates first baseman Sean Rodriguez and Reds first baseman Joey Votto were ejected.
Over in Toronto, both benches and bullpens emptied after Toronto reliever Aaron Sanchez was ejected for throwing at Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar in the eighth inning. It was the climax of a game-long spat that began when Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit Josh Donaldson on the left arm in the first inning.
Donaldson and Volquez traded stares and words as the Blue Jays slugger took a slow walk to first base, and home plate umpire Jim Wolf warned both dugouts.
When Donaldson batted again in the third, Volquez missed high and inside with a pitch that sailed to the backstop. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to argue but Volquez was not ejected.
In the seventh, Royals reliever Ryan Madson hit Troy Tulowitzki on the right forearm, then threw high and inside to Donaldson, who stepped out and yelled at Wolf. Gibbons and on-deck hitter Jose Bautista stepped in to break up the argument, and Gibbons was eventually ejected.
After Donaldson struck out, Bautista made it 3-0 with a double to center, and yelled at Madson as he ran to first.
Donaldson and Volquez had to be restrained after Sanchez was ejected for hitting Escobar. Gibbons and Chris Colabello, who had just been replaced for defense, both ran out to join the scrum. Wolf ejected both Sanchez and Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale.
The Blue Jays would eventually win, 5-2.