By: Will Burchfield
The Tigers were trailing the Royals by 12 runs in the top of the ninth on Wednesday night, and then things really got ugly.
Bruce Rondon drilled Mike Moustakas on the hip with a 99 mile per hour fastball, prompting both benches and bullpens to clear.
Danny Duffy of the Royals was particularly incensed, sprinting out to the mound to confront Rondon before Dixon Machado and Justin Verlander intervened. Duffy, a starting pitcher, wasn’t involved in the game — a 16-2 win for the Royals — but he clearly had issue with Rondon’s actions.
Said Duffy of Rondon, “If he doesn’t want to compete in a situation that’s not sexy, they should just send his ass home.”
When Brad Ausmus was asked if he felt Rondon’s beaning of Moustakas was intentional, he said, “I don’t know what it was, that’s probably a better question for (Rondon).”
Rondon declined to speak to the media after the game.
Said Moustakas, who hurled his bat to the ground and stepped toward Rondon after being hit, “You’d have to ask him what he was thinking. Obviously I was a little upset. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be hit.”
It was speculated that Rondon threw at Moustakas as retribution for Lorenzo Cain running through a stop sign at third base in the ninth inning and scoring the 14th run of the game.
Hosmer, who drove in Cain from second for his fifth hit and sixth RBI of the game, said, “We didn’t show anyone up. We got hits, we scored runs. Apparently that’s frowned upon around here.”
(It should be noted that when Andrew Romine came on in relief and threw a pitch to the backstop with runners on first and second, neither runner took the free base.)
Asumus wasn’t aware that Cain ran through a stop sign. He thought he had been waved home.
Asked if he has a problem with opposing players taking an extra base when they’re already ahead by a lot, Ausmus said it depends on the situation.
“If the guy’s gonna score easy I think you gotta send him. I’m sure whoever’s hitting at the time wants an RBI and his teammate who’s on base wants to get him an RBI,” he said.
The Royals kept eight of their nine starters in the game throughout the blowout, but that was out of necessity more than anything else. Rhey only had two players available to come off the bench, one of whom, Salvador Perez, left Tuesday’s game with a rib injury.
Though both dugouts and bullpens cleared and the players converged in front of the mound, there wasn’t much physical alteration. Rondon was the only player ejected, although Ausmus didn’t receive a formal explanation as to why.
“Bruce was pretty irate and the umpire was having to hold him back, I’m guessing that’s why,” Ausmus said. “I didn’t really need a written report, quite frankly.”
The umpire could only restrain Rondon for a few seconds. He was later corralled by Ausmus, Michael Fulmer and Alex Wilson.
Is Ausmus concerned about Rondon’s maturity and often volatile demeanor?
“No more than I was yesterday,” he said.
As to the kerfuffle on the field, Ausmus said, “It happens in baseball. Fortunately it didn’t turn into anything major. No punches were thrown, no blood was drawn. For me, it’s ancient history now.”
Mikie Mahtook didn’t care at all for the way the Tigers played on Wednesday night, which was sloppy and at times careless. For the second game in a row, they sabotaged a potential rally with a blunder on the base paths. On Tuesday it was Mahtook, on Wednesday it was Jose Iglesias.
“You want to say that we can shrug it off, but there’s just some things that happened today that aren’t good. We don’t want to see those happen. That’s not how we play, that’s not how we go about things,” he said.
He suggested it’s a lack of focus more than a lack of fire.
“I think everybody has enough pride in themselves to compete, I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think people are quitting. I think it’s just one of those things where you want to play the game hard and the right way. It’s a game of failure, you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re gonna run into outs. But it’s not continuing to do those things,” said Mahtook.
As for the Royals, Mahtook said, “They play the game hard. They just play the game of baseball. They get guys over, get guys in and it’s a good brand of baseball. They’re a good team and that’s how everybody should play.”