CLEVELAND (AP) — The Chicago White Sox’s Tim Anderson and the Cleveland Guardians’ Jose Ramírez traded blows at second base Saturday night that sparked a long melee for the bench in the sixth inning that resulted in six throws.
Ramírez savagely smacked Anderson in the face with his right hand, dazzling the shortstop and knocking him to the ground. Both the benches and bullpens poured onto the field, leading to some chaotic moments in one of the majors’ worst fights in recent years.
“It’s not funny, but boys are boys,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona, who was sent off after the riot.
Francona wasn’t exactly sure what sparked the fight between Anderson and Ramírez, but said that prior to the brawl, Anderson was told by one of the referees to stop talking about Guardians rookie Gabriel Arias.
Ramírez and Anderson are likely to face bans, as well as possibly other participants. The teams play their series finals on Sunday afternoon.
Ramírez said he felt Anderson was being disrespected. On Friday night, Anderson forced Guardians rookie Brayan Rocchio off the field after a slip in second place, resulting in a decision that was controversially reversed by the umpires.
“He said he wanted to fight and I had to defend myself,” Ramírez said through a translator.
Francona, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and closer Emmanuel Clase were thrown along with Chicago manager Pedro Grifol. There were multiple breakouts in the infield and in foul territory. It took 15 minutes for order to be restored.
The argument began when Ramírez slipped headfirst into second with an RBI double and Anderson stood over him, straddling the third all-star baseman. As Ramírez got up, he pointed his finger at Anderson’s face and yelled, prompting them to fight.
Anderson dropped his glove and threw the first punch before Ramírez countered with a shot in the Chicago star’s jaw.
Anderson was forced into the dugout by members of the coaching staff, but returned to the field from the clubhouse minutes later. After the latest burst, his Chicago teammate Andrew Vaughn physically carried Anderson down the stairs.
Sarbaugh and Clase were the main figures in subsequent escalations during the delay.
The White Sox had a 5-1 lead when the game was delayed.
After falling to the ground, Anderson emerged angry and tried to get at Ramírez, but couldn’t break free from several teammates who were trying to calm him down.
Tempers temporarily calmed before Francona and Grifol spoke up, resulting in players and coaches from both teams jostling and jostling as the crowd roared.
“I think he was more like yelling at me and I was yelling back,” Francona said.
Grifol did not want to comment directly on the ugly incident.
“A lot of people are upset,” he said. “Thank God I didn’t hear any news from the coaching room. I won’t talk about it. I’ll let MLB figure that out. You still have work to do.”
AP sportswriter Tom Withers contributed to this report.