Kansas city Royals fans roared at Kauffman Stadium when home team pitcher Yordando Ventura hurled a 99 mile per hour fast ball at Oakland A batter, Brett Lawrie, hitting him in the side. It was Lawrie’s second at bat on Saturday, and tensions were running high. There were some feelings left over from the game on Friday. The Royal faced the A’s on Friday, winning 6-4, but some questionable play involving Lawrie and Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar in the seventh inning, stirred up heated emotions.
Escobar, who was stretched out looking to make a play at second base, was in position, anticipating a throw from Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who first shuffled delaying the toss that would come late. Lawrie slid into the base hard with his cleat up and caught Escobar as he slid through taking out the shortstop. Escobar suffered a knee sprain and a bruise that would keep him on the bench unable to play on Saturday. The play had the Royals team miffed and set on edge, going into the game on Saturday. Escobar, who had not missed a game since 2013, called the incident “dirty play” before the game Saturday.
Ventura was not having a good day in the early innings on Saturday. In the fourth inning, before Lawrie returned to the plate for his second at bat, Ventura had let loose a pitch to batter Josh Reddick who proceeded to connect, sending the ball over the fence, for a three-run score extending the A’s lead to 5-0.
Lawrie stepped into the batters box looking at Ventura for a second time Saturday, after getting a little piece of the an outside pitch and grounding out on his first at bat. Ventura’s first pitch hit the dirt low and away. The next pitch was off the mark, but right on the clandestine target the pitcher had chosen.
Without hesitation Home-plate umpire Jim Joyce ejected Ventura. Both teams left their dugouts and bullpens, but with restraint, were able to keep the events from turning into a brawl. Ventura had never been ejected from a game before. After the game, Ventura spoke to the press through an interpreter, but would not discuss the pitch that hit Lawrie. However, Josh Reddick did not appreciate the kind of baseball the Royals pitcher brought to the mound, calling it unprofessional.
Lawrie said at the time of being struck by the ball, he did not want things to escalate. He was not looking for a fight or to start anything that might get someone hurt. Lawrie expressed concern about exciting the fans and igniting a big scene. He maintained control of his emotions and walked it off.
With closer Greg Holland on the 15-day disabled list and Ventura ejected, the Royals got a chance to get a look at Yohan Pino. The Class AAA pitcher was brought up from Omaha early Saturday to take the place of Holland while he recovers from a muscle strain. Pino stepped in upon Ventura’s sudden exit and pitched four and two third innings not allowing the A’s to score.
By Jeff Pierce
Photo by Keith Allison – License