ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays pitcher Chris Archer and Royals catcher Salvador Perez exchanged a lot of words in a 12-1 Tampa Bay win on Wednesday.
None of which were "Happy Birthday."
Perez and Archer had to be restrained by the umpires when things got a little chippy in the top of the seventh inning. Perez, who was celebrating his 27th birthday on Wednesday, was hit near the left elbow with by a 96-mph fastball from Archer. Players from both teams gathered on the top steps of the dugout as the two continued to exchange words until Perez was replaced with a pinch-runner at first base.
Perez had some choice words for Archer after the game.
"Of course he was throwing at me," Perez said. "I think he was mad, but I don't think it's the right way."
Perez singled in his previous two at-bats, including a line drive up the middle that knocked Archer off his feet and led to some conversation between them. Archer denied there was any purpose behind the pitch in the seventh.
"Honestly, there was nothing malicious there," Archer said. "I've had some great interactions with him in the past. And, whenever we crossed paths prior to that, we were just saying playful things to each other. So, you know, just like other times in the past. He's a good hitter. I'm trying to pitch inside. There's no malicious intent with 96 mph."
Perez, who is riding a six-game hitting streak, had reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances (five hits, three walks). In the first three games of this four-game set, Perez is 7-for-10 with a home run and a double. He has knocked in three runs and scored two.
"Look, players don't like to get hit. I understand that," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We can all appreciate our players don't want to be hit, as I'm sure players throughout the league do. Given where the game was, I'm very confident there wasn't any intent."
Perez, however, questioned that timing, which came on Archer's first pitch of the at-bat with none on and the Rays staked to a 7-0 lead.
"He never throws a first pitch inside," Perez said. "We can see all the reports we've had and he never throws inside. Just try and get me out and try to make some pitches."
Of Archer's 101 pitches, 73 were strikes. He also did not allow a walk while striking out 11.
"It's hard for me to judge intent, but it was awful strange that as good as his command was that one got away from him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Sal had hit the ball hard twice, but it didn't make any sense to me, so it's hard to fathom whether there was intent there or not with it."