Benches empty in third inning of Game 6

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A wild Jonathan Sanchez plunked Chase Utley in the back, leading a perturbed Utley to flip the ball back to the pitcher and sparking a benches-clearing incident in the third inning of Game 6 of the NLCS.

The ball, which hit Utley just above the numbers, happened to carom and bounce into Utley’s right hand as he started to take his base with none out in the third. He casually flipped the ball back to Sanchez, with no apparent malice, but Sanchez was focused on getting another ball from the umpire and wasn’t quite sure how to take Utley’s toss.

Fortunately, no punches were thrown and no one was ejected from the game as a result of the incident. Sanchez, though, was immediately replaced by manager Bruce Bochy after the loss of composure. Jeremy Affeldt was already warming up anyway, and he was certainly ready to pitch by the time the fracas was over.

The game was tied 2-2 at the time of the incident. The Giants scored twice in the top of the third on a rally started by Sanchez’s single. Sanchez, though, was very wild to start the bottom of the third, leading to the early bullpen activity.