MINNEAPOLIS -- The benches cleared not once, but twice, in the seventh inning of the Twins' 11-7 walk-off win in 10 innings over the Rays on Sunday at Target Field.With Eduardo Escobar at the plate with two outs in the seventh after James Dozier scored the go-ahead run on a
MINNEAPOLIS -- The benches cleared not once, but twice, in the seventh inning of the Twins' 11-7 walk-off win in 10 innings over the Rays on Sunday at Target Field.
With Eduardo Escobar at the plate with two outs in the seventh after James Dozier scored the go-ahead run on a balk by rookie reliever Diego Castillo, the Twins' bench took issue to a 101-mph pitch from Castillo that got too close to Escobar. The Rays claimed Twins reliever Thomas Pressly yelled from the bench at Castillo to stop throwing at Escobar, which caused Escobar to step out of the box. Third baseman Daniel Robertson then yelled at Escobar to get back in the box, and it escalated from there. Both benches cleared, including relievers running in from the bullpen, but no punches were thrown.
"I wasn't upset with the pitcher," Escobar said through an interpreter. "I never said anything to the pitcher or the dugout. I got upset and frustrated with Robertson, the third baseman. I didn't know why he was yelling at me. The previous pitch before everything happened, it was kind of close to me. I wasn't upset about that either. Robertson just started opening his arm and yelling stuff at me, which I couldn't hear very well. That's why I got frustrated."
Escobar was held back by right-hander Kyle Gibson, but exchanged words with Rays right-hander Chris Archer at the end of the skirmish. Robertson, though, said the issue was defused postgame, explaining he was just trying to protect his pitcher because he thought Escobar had also stared down fellow reliever Ryan Yarbrough after an inside pitch earlier in the game.
"I wanna start off first and foremost by saying Escobar is a good dude, man," Robertson said. "We talk all the time at third base. The guy likes Fogo de Chao, I like Fogo de Chao. So I wanna start off by saying that. Obviously nobody's trying to hit anybody; I get hit all the time. If that was the case, I'd be staring at a lot of pitchers. When Castillo went down and low on his ankles, he stared at him again. There was already a lot of chatter going on as far as the balk that happened right before that. Everyone was yelling at each other."
Nobody was initially ejected, and Escobar struck out on the next pitch from Castillo to end the inning. But as Escobar exited the field, he got into it again, as he felt Robertson was still talking and being disrespectful. The benches cleared again as a result.
"When I struck out, I slammed the bat and the helmet," Escobar said. "Frustration with myself. Walked away. When I was walking toward third base he started signaling and opening his arm again when he was going into his dugout."
Escobar ended up getting ejected for his role, although Twins manager Paul Molitor argued with the umpires after the inning that Escobar shouldn't have been tossed. Ehire Adrianza replaced Escobar at third base.
"They thought Esco was the second instigator the second time everybody went out," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I didn't have a lot of information as far as what to do other than argue there's no way it should be one against none as far as who was getting out of that game. But that's the way it stood."
The Rays, specifically Archer, were angry with the Twins on Saturday as Eddie Rosario danced off third base with Archer on the mound, trying to induce a balk. Dozier did the same with Castillo on the mound, leading to the balk, which appeared to irk Rays manager Kevin Cash, who did confirm it was the right call.
"It was a balk," Cash said. "Whatever it was, the runner at third kind of took off, flinched and Diego flinched himself. They got the call right. After that, I think there was a misunderstanding in the fact that Diego was throwing at somebody. He wasn't, and then it escalated from there. I think cooler heads prevailed."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.