A's, Rangers jaw after Laureano HR, HBP

July 28th, 2019

OAKLAND -- A beef was sparked between A’s hitters and Rangers pitcher Adrian Sampson during a game in Arlington on June 8. On Saturday night, it reached a boiling point.

“This guy had a target on his back, and we were fired up to face him today,” A’s outfielder Mark Canha said. “I think we made that clear.”

Things got heated at the Coliseum in the A's 5-4 win over the Rangers when A's outfielder Ramon Laureano launched a solo home run off Sampson in the sixth inning. Laureano admired the shot, which left the bat with an exit velocity of 104.1 mph and traveled a projected 413 feet to left field, according to Statcast. He then stared at Sampson and pointed to the barrel of his bat on his way to first base, an action that Sampson took exception to, and Sampson responded by yelling at Laureano as he made his way up the first-base line.

Laureano’s issues with Sampson began in that June 8 game when he said Sampson intentionally stepped on his bat after retiring him for the last out of the fourth inning.

“I don’t remember what he said to me,” Laureano said of Saturday’s interaction with Sampson. “I just told him he remembers when he stepped on my bat and he can step on it again.”

Sampson’s issue with Laureano was the amount of time he took to stare at the long ball. The right-hander did not reveal the exact words he told Laureano, but said he let the center fielder know he was welcome to try to make a move.

“If you watch the tape you see how long he stared at it and was yelling at me,” Sampson said. “I let him know I was ready to go, and he just kept running. I just tried to move on and get the next couple guys out and give our guys a chance to put some runs on the board.”

With MLB’s recent ‘Let The Kids Play’ campaign, Laureano could try to justify that he was doing just that. Rangers shorstop Elvis Andrus doesn’t buy that theory.

“They're pimping every homer,” Andrus said. “I didn't know about the beginning of everything [in Arlington], but I was like well, as a hitter, you know if you start pimping balls after you hit a homer, there's gonna be consequences! So at that point, it's a man's sport in here. If I was a pitcher, I'd be pretty pissed off if you freakin' pimp a homer in the first inning. So after that, I didn't know it was going to get out of hand, but it's a bunch of men out there, it gets physical, especially later in the game.

“The guys that hit a homer, they're like 30 years old! That counts for like 20 years old, that's a kid for me. If you're 30, it doesn't count as let the kids play. It says 'Let the KIDS play,' not 'Let the old guys play.'”

The interaction between Sampson and Laureano prompted A’s players to rise up and clear out to the grass just in front of the dugout, but things settled pretty quickly. However, tempers flared in the eighth.

Reliever Rafael Montero threw a couple of pitches inside on Laureano before getting a visit from Rangers pitching coach Julio Rangel. Two pitches later, Montero plunked Laureano, which, as expected, cleared both benches and bullpens for a scrum near home plate. A frustrated Laureano tossed his bat to the ground and pointed toward Montero while home-plate umpire Sean Barber and catcher Jeff Mathis blocked him from a clear path to Montero. Laureano was eventually separated far away from the scuttle by bench coach Ryan Christenson, and the situation diffused after a few minutes. Laureano took first base, while Montero and Rangers manager Chris Woodward were both ejected.

Laureano did not outright say Montero hit him on purpose, but found it strange that Montero received a visit from Rangel earlier in the at-bat.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” Laureano said. “The pitching coach went out to talk to him two pitches before, so that was a little suspicious. But it is what it is. We got the win.”

Woodward said the purpose of Rangel’s visit was to tell Montero to speed up his delivery to the plate, feeling that Canha, who was on first, might try to steal with the A’s only holding a one-run lead.

“I told Julio right before that, in that situation, we don’t want to hit Laureano,” Woodward said. “We are trying to win the ballgame. Runner at first, two outs, the last thing we are trying to do is hit somebody. Then I said, ‘you know he is going to miss arm side,’ that’s typically what happens when you try to speed up your delivery. That’s what I was telling their guys, he wasn’t trying to hit them.”

The origin of the beef comes from the fourth inning of the June 8 game when Canha homered off Sampson and exchanged words with the pitcher after watching the shot for a few seconds. With this being the first meeting since that night, Canha is hoping everything is squashed after the 95 mph fastball that nailed Laureano.

“I don’t know if he hit him on purpose or not. That’s not for me to say. But the guy throws hard and went a little too high,” Canha said. “He kind of seemed erratic that inning. I don’t know what to say. You for sure have to throw somebody out in that inning. It’s unfortunate that it came to that.”