Facing new rival in A's, Royals focused on field
Memories linger, but Kansas City ready to keep quarrels in past
OAKLAND -- It was more than two months ago, but the A's-Royals series at Kauffman Stadium from April 17-19 -- the first meeting between the clubs since the Royals rallied for a victory in last season's American League Wild Card Game -- was easily the most volatile of the season.
There were hard slides, cleared benches, brushback pitches and plunkings, angry words and gestures, ejections and suspensions. And by the end of that series -- which Kansas City won, 2-1 -- the dates of this weekend's rematch were circled in anticipation of perhaps more tense play between the teams.
"We'll be fine," Royals manager Ned Yost insisted. "It's over. It's in the past."
But it hasn't been forgotten.
The anger began in the Friday game of that April set, when Oakland's Brett Lawrie appeared to go out of his way to spike shortstop Alcides Escobar in the leg during a slide, causing a left knee injury that forced Escobar to miss the rest of the series. The benches briefly cleared.
The next night, Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura plunked Lawrie and was promptly ejected, and again the benches cleared.
That Sunday, the A's Scott Kazmir plunked Lorenzo Cain but was not ejected. Both benches, though, were warned, which incensed the Royals. Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland then got tossed, as did Yost for disputing Eiland's ejection.
Later, reliever Kelvin Herrera threw behind Lawrie and was ejected. So were bench coach Don Wakamatsu (actually, he was mistakenly ejected twice by the umpires) and Escobar, who was on the bench.
Lawrie then shouted at Royals fans behind the dugout. Ventura was fined, and Herrera was eventually suspended.
In short, it was an ugly weekend. Is all forgiven and forgotten, though?
"You know, for me, it's over," Escobar said. "I have no trouble with them. I just want to go there and play baseball."
But does Escobar think the A's have forgotten?
"I don't know," Escobar said. "Maybe yes. Maybe no. If they were to say something bad, I'll respond."
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas also wasn't sure what to expect from the A's.
"You never know," Moustakas said. "They might still have some bad feelings. We'll see.
"I can say that for us, it's all behind us. Enough time has passed that I would think everything has cooled down. I think we'll just go there and try to play baseball and win games. Our thought process is to win games."
Herrera famously pointed a finger to his head and yelled, "Think about it" to Oakland's bench after he was ejected, a reference to how his 100-mph fastball might feel on flesh.
"I don't know what they'll be thinking," Herrera said of the A's. "For us, it will be, 'Just play the game.' For our part, we have no problem."
But Herrera isn't about to apologize for his actions.
"The history of the game has always been that guys protect their teammates," Herrera said. "That's how I'm going to play the game. Sorry."