Angels, Royals Fight to Finish
Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn saw just about everything in his major league debut Tuesday night--beanballs galore, two bench-clearing brawls, a dozen ejections, nine relief pitchers, five errors, two home runs . . .
Oh, and one other thing: Washburn got his first major league victory, thanks to his 6 1/3-inning, two-hit effort that led the Angels to a 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals before a crowd of 12,020 in Kauffman Stadium.
That, however, will not be in the report the umpires file with the American League office, a lengthy rap sheet that is sure to result in several fines and suspensions.
Neither the Angels nor Royals could recall any history of bad blood between the teams, but there is now, especially after Royal infielder Felix Martinez sucker-punched Angel utility player Frank Bolick in the mouth during a ninth-inning melee that delayed the game for 15 minutes.
“That . . . should be kicked out of baseball,” fumed Angel catcher Phil Nevin, who started the first brawl when he charged the mound in the seventh inning after getting hit by a pitch for the second time. “If I’m catching and he steps into the batter’s box, I may just drop him, and there may not be one of his teammates backing him up.”
Nevin had been ejected and was in the clubhouse when the ninth-inning brawl started, and he saw Martinez’s punch when the, uh, highlights of the game were shown in the clubhouse.
“If I would have seen that live, I would have ran onto the field naked and killed him,” Nevin said. “He’s a disgrace to baseball, and you can tell that to him. If he has a problem with that, you tell him to come see me.”
Martinez, heavily criticized for kicking Minnesota’s Otis Nixon in the face and breaking the outfielder’s jaw as Nixon slid into second in April, speaks very limited English, and he waved reporters off after the game.
Emotions were running so high afterward that the Royals stationed six security officers in the foyer between the team’s clubhouses and one outside each clubhouse. There were no further incidents.
“People will see what kind of player Martinez is,” said Angel reliever Rich DeLucia, ejected for hitting Dean Palmer in the eighth. “He nailed Otis Nixon, he sucker-punched Bolick. The league has to do something. How many people does he have to hurt before something is done?”
Royal reliever Jeff Montgomery said, “I think the league president is going to have a lot of fun watching this video,” but Dr. Gene Budig, American League president, was actually at the game and met with umpires afterward.
“I’m sure there will be guys suspended,” Angel Manager Terry Collins said. “You think enough is enough, but then it went on and on and on.”
The flash point for Tuesday night’s tensions came when Nevin was hit in the back by a Chris Haney pitch in the fifth and drilled in the back of the neck by Jim Pittsley in the seventh.
Nevin glared at Haney before going to first base, but he thought Pittsley’s pitch was intentional and charged the mound. Pittsley tackled Nevin and the dugouts and bullpens emptied, but very few punches were thrown in a large scrum that quickly dissipated.
DeLucia, who relieved Washburn in the seventh with the Angels leading, 5-1, hit Palmer with a pitch to start the eighth and was immediately ejected, along with Collins.
“DeLucia took care of something professionally,” Collins said. “After that, it should have been over and done.”
But Royal reliever Scott Service hit Darin Erstad in the thigh with two outs in the top of the ninth. Service was ejected and players came out of their dugouts, but there was no fight.
Then Angel left-hander Mike Holtz buzzed a ninth-inning fastball that grazed Jose Offerman’s jersey, and things got really ugly. Angel closer Troy Percival led the charge from the bullpen, and players gathered in another scrum around home plate, and suddenly Martinez punched Bolick.
Angel shortstop Gary DiSarcina, pitcher Ken Hill and outfielder Damon Mashore went after Martinez, and Angel pitcher Jack McDowell, on the disabled list because of an elbow injury, landed a punch on Martinez. Royal Manager Tony Muser grabbed Martinez in a bear hug and practically threw him back into the dugout.
“That’s about as ugly as they get,” said crew chief Don Denkinger, who has been umpiring for 30 years. “I’ve seen more fighting, but I’ve never seen so many people defy the warning that if you hit someone, you and your manager will be ejected.”
When order was restored, the Royals scored three runs to cut the lead to 7-5 before Percival came on to strike out Jermaine Dye and retire Mike Sweeney on a groundout for his 16th save.
As the Angels walked off the field, glaring into Kansas City’s dugout, the Righteous Brothers’ “You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” played over Kauffman Stadium’s public address system.
It was a fitting end to an ugly night.
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Ejections from the two bench-clearing brawls in Tuesday’s Angel-Royal game:
* Manager Terry Collins
* Bench Coach Joe Maddon
* Pitcher Mike Holtz
* Utility player Frank Bolick
* Catcher Phil Nevin
* Pitcher Rich DeLucia
* Manager Tony Muser
* Bench Coach Jamie Quirk
* Third-base Coach Rich Dauer
* Infielder Felix Martinez
* Pitcher Jason Pittsley
* Pitcher Scott Service