The benches cleared after Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, unleashing tempers between the American League West rivals months after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers.
Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch – for the third time in the three-game series and second time that game – this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him in Houston’s dugout.
Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued.
Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field.
Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch — for the third time in the three-game series — this one by Humberto Castellanos (pictured) with one out in the seventh
Laureano is pictured getting hit by Castellano’s pitch
Laureano is pictured flinching after being struck by the pitch
Laureano is pictured charging the Houston Astros dugout after being hit by the pitch
Both teams are pictured as the brawl began
Laureano is restrained by Houston Astro’s Dustin Garneau after Laureano charged the dugout
Players and coaches from both sides are pictured clashing during a bench-clearing brawl
Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to ‘get back to the dugout!’ through a ballpark with no fans, in footage reposted by sports journalist Dillard Barnhart.
Oakland batters were hit five times during the series, while no Houston hitters were plunked.
A’s catcher Austin Allen was also ejected and Astros manager Dusty Baker was tossed a half inning earlier. Houston lost its fifth in a row overall.
Ex-Astros player Fiers didn’t pitch this series after going public in November about Houston’s detailed sign-stealing scam.
A 2019 MLB investigation found that the Astros were communicating opponents’ upcoming pitches to their own hitters with the help of a centerfield camera, which would record opposing catchers’ hand signals.
That information was then relayed to the dugout, where Astros players would bang on a trash can to indicate the pitch their teammate in the batter’s box should expect to see.
Fiers was a member of the Astros that season and witnessed the cheating.
The Astros received a maximum $5 million fine, forfeited first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and manager AJ Hinch as well as general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended one year before swiftly being fired by club owner Jim Crane.
Mike Fiers celebrates with his Houston teammates in the clubhouse after the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium
The Astros have won the past three division crowns, a World Series in 2017 and AL pennant last year. The A’s won 97 each in 2018 and ’19 only to lose the AL wild-card game.
Fiers said earlier this year that he was receiving death threats as a consequence of blowing the whistle on Houston’s sign-stealing scheme that has recently tarnished that club’s 2017 World Series title.
‘Whatever, I don’t care,’ Fiers, now a member of the Oakland Athletics, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. ‘I’ve dealt with a lot of death threats before. It’s just another thing on my plate.
‘If I’m worried about any retaliation,’ he added, ‘I’m not going to be ready for the season.’
Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers says he has received death threats as a consequence of blowing the whistle on Houston’s sign-stealing scheme that has recently tarnished that club’s 2017 World Series title. Fiers was a member of the Astros that season and witnessed the cheating
Earlier this week, and somewhat predictably, the Astros and Dodgers nearly came to blows in their first meeting since news of the scandal broke.
Although the two teams failed to practice proper social distancing amid the fracas, no punches were actually thrown during the game Tuesday night.
Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly did nearly hit Astros third baseman Alex Bregman with a 96mph fastball, and added insult to near-injury by making sarcastic faces at Houston’s dugout and telling shortstop Carlos Correa, ‘nice swing, b****!’ after a strikeout.
Kelly was suspended for eight games by MLB on Wednesday in response to the incident.
Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly nearly hit Astros third baseman Alex Bregman with a 96mph fastball, and added insult to near-injury by making sarcastic faces at Houston’s dugout