Tensions boil over in Royals-White Sox fracas
CHICAGO -- Bad blood between the White Sox and Royals that has simmered since the start of the season boiled over again on Thursday night during a benches-clearing incident in the bottom of the seventh of the Royals' 3-2 win in 13 innings at U.S. Cellular Field.
When the dust settled, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, pitcher Edinson Volquez and right-hander Yordano Ventura were ejected for the Royals, while pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale were ejected for the White Sox.
The fracas began at the close of the seventh inning when White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton grounded the ball back to Ventura and then shouted at the Royals ace, who caught the ball and then held it toward Eaton and shouted something in return before before throwing to first for the final out of the inning. Eaton never made it to the bag and turned back toward Ventura as the benches and bullpens of both teams flooded the field.
Ventura appeared to be quick-pitching Eaton, which might have frustrated the White Sox leadoff man, and he took his time settling in the box prior to the pitch that started everything. Ventura carries with him a reputation of his own and his manager said he must do a better job controlling his emotions.
"That was our conversation after the game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's a young guy. I had trouble learning to control my emotions when I was young. It's something you have to continue to work on. He knows it. It just comes out. He's a competitive guy. He's going to work on controlling his emotions from here out."
"This game's emotional and it seems to follow them around," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's happened often enough. Everybody gets emotional and reacts to things, and that's what happened."
Eaton, in discussing the incident, repeatedly declared his respect for the Royals and Ventura, in particular.
"I think when he came at me with the two-step that he did, and then he said something -- I was a little thrown back by it," Eaton said. "And then I had some words for him. But like I said, he's a heck of a competitor, a heck of a pitcher. He wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't that way."
"It's a messy situation," said Ventura through interpreter Jeremy Guthrie. "I got the ground ball and I was unable to control my emotions in that play and it turned out ugly."
"He's a young kid," Cain said. "He was a little aggressive tonight, but at the same time, we're gonna back our teammates regardless. That's what we do. We're a family in here."
Samardzija was part of two or three ancillary fights after the original dust-up, going after Cain, whom he hit with a pitch on Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium.
"For me, I'm not a big fan of him," Cain said of Samardzija. "I don't know what the deal is. We're just gonna try and clean it up and play some baseball tomorrow. We'll see what happens."
In the four games this season between these two teams, all won by the Royals, there have been eight combined hit batters. Two more came Thursday, when Jose Abreu was hit by Ventura leading off the fourth. Sale then hit Mike Moustakas with two outs in the fifth.
While the White Sox certainly didn't seem thrilled with Ventura's emphatic gestures on the mound, the postgame focus fell upon returning to baseball. Eaton understands the Royals fought hard to get to the World Series in 2014 and knows they are fighting just as hard to protect their standing in 2015.
"They are a young group of guys who go about their business in an exciting and aggressive way. And that's why we have the utmost respect for them," Eaton said. "They've earned everything they've gotten and now they want to keep it. You don't expect anything less.
"Again, when you are good and you go out there and compete, people want to be where you are. What happened, two competitive teams scratching for the same goal. Sometimes it gets the best of you. Ventura is a heck of a competitor. I respect the heck out of him and everyone behind him. I'm a competitor, as well. Sometimes boys will be boys and I think that was a situation where we had some excitement."