Lindor-Romo tiff leads to benches clearing
Tempers flared at Target Field during the eighth inning of the Twins' 3-1 victory over the Indians on Friday night. With two outs and nobody on, Minnesota reliever Sergio Romo threw a 1-1 pitch to Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, who hit a fly ball to left field for the final out of the frame.
But as soon as the ball left the bat, Romo began walking off the mound and toward the home dugout, while Lindor smiled at Romo as he went down the first-base line. The two began yelling and walking toward each other before the benches cleared and the two had to be separated. The bullpens then emptied before order was restored and the game resumed.
"This is a situation that’s been brewing for a while," temporary Indians manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "I mean, Romo likes to dish it. Our guys dish it back. The whole thing about this situation -- Romo’s been animated all his career and he’s been in the National League. We don’t know much about him. That’s all it is. If he’s gonna dish it, we dish it back and you have to take it. That’s the bottom line. Little words there, but nothing to the end of it.”
The two clubs are locked in a three-way battle along with the White Sox for supremacy in the American League Central as the regular season enters its final two weeks. After the Twins and White Sox both won Friday, Chicago holds a one-game edge over Minnesota and a 2 1/2-game lead over Cleveland.
"I can kind of add some things up from the last time we saw these guys," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "First and foremost, the last thing that we want is any sort of confrontation. We don’t want to see it; we don’t want our benches and our bullpens clearing. And there was a warning at the end of the game. We don’t have any desire to deal with any back and forth from our pitchers and the opposition’s pitchers either.
"So first and foremost, I think that’s something to be clear on. But I think it’s basically to the point where it’s just a couple of players who continually interact with each other when they probably shouldn’t. And I think it would probably be better if they didn’t. And I think a lot of the interaction is, some of it’s subtle, some of it’s not so subtle. I think if we just all went out there and played the game and tried to ignore what was going on on the other side, we’d be in better shape."
The two clubs meet again Saturday and Sunday at Target Field for their final two meetings during the regular season. Friday's starter for Cleveland, right-hander Shane Bieber, looked ahead to the rest of the weekend series in light of Friday's incident.
"There's plenty of things throughout the game of baseball, throughout a nine-inning game of baseball that can spark a team, spark a lineup, spark some momentum," Bieber said. "It doesn't have to be a play on the field, it can be anything. It can be guys getting each other fired up in the dugout. There's so many different ways.
"We almost got it together in the ninth. We hit a lot of balls hard and kind of made a run at it there in the end. We just fell short a little bit. But there are plenty of things we can use to our advantage. We'll see how we do it tomorrow.”