The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers have had bad blood since Jose Bautista's bat-flipping incident from last season. It all came to a violent head last night.
Tensions ran high after pitcher Matt Bush hit Bautista in the lower back with a 97-mph fastball in the seventh inning. In the midst of a double play at the top of the eighth inning, Bautista then knocked down Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor with an aggressive slide that was later deemed illegal. Players from both teams rushed the field; Odor shoved Bautista, then landed a brutal punch to his face. The on-field melee that followed "was the worst one I've ever been a part of," said Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Odor or Bautista: Which one is more to blame for the brawl?
ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield faulted pitcher Matt Bush for what looked like an intentional throw at Bautista, and ruled Bautista's hard slide into second base "fair play," saying Bautista "didn't slide spikes up or do anything that indicated an intent to cause injury." Schoenfield largely faulted the Rangers and Bush's throw at Bautista for the ugly incident: "Bautista's home run and flip occurred in October. Get over it."
Sports Illustrated's John Tayler blamed Bautista for the brawl, saying that even though Odor punching Bautista was "unacceptable," Bautista's slide "was reckless and wrong."