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Punches were thrown during a benches-clearing brawl between the Blue Jays and Rangers

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The Blue Jays and Rangers are not the best of friends. Jose Bautista sent the Jays into the ALCS last year with a three-run home run and famously flipped his bat, something that would become the subject of many discussions in the ensuing months.

The two clubs met for the first time since the ALDS for a four-game set in Toronto on May 2. There was some speculation that the Rangers might try to exact revenge on Bautista, but the series was completed without incident.

This weekend’s three-game set in Texas between the two games almost finished without incident. The Jays won the first game on Friday 5-0, and the Rangers used a Drew Stubbs walk-off home run on Saturday to win 6-5.

Rangers reliever Matt Bush came in as relief in the seventh inning, allowing an inherited runner to score to push the Jays’ lead to 6-3. He came back out to start the eighth inning, facing Bautista. His first pitch was a 96 MPH fastball that hit Bautista and was, without question, done with intent. Bautista wasn’t happy about it. Both teams were issued a warning. Bautista was discussing the incident with first base umpire Dale Scott.

After Edwin Encarnacion flied out and Jake Diekman came in to relieve Bush, Justin Smoak hit a ground ball to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre threw the ball to second baseman Rougned Odor who whipped around to first to complete the double play. Bautista slid late into Odor, also obviously done with intent to harm. Odor wasn’t happy about it and threw punches at Bautista, one of which landed flush. The benches quickly emptied.

Jesse Chavez, who had entered in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a three-run home run and a single before getting the final out of the frame, started the bottom of the eighth. He threw a first-pitch fastball that hit Prince Fielder. Chavez was immediately ejected and the benches emptied again. Things calmed down quicker than before, but it was still a messy affair.

There were so many ejections…

  • Blue Jays: first base coach Tim Leiper (ejected in the third inning), manager John Gibbons, pitcher Jesse Chavez, right fielder Bautista, third baseman Josh Donaldson, bench coach DeMarlo Hale
  • Rangers: second baseman Odor, bench coach Steve Buechele

Odor is likely looking at a lengthy suspension and a fine. Bush, Bautista, and Chavez at the very least are also likely looking at suspensions and fines. What a messy situation.

The two teams don’t play each other again for the rest of the regular season.

Indians send down Clevinger, Plesac after virus blunder

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CLEVELAND — After hearing Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac explain their actions, the Cleveland Indians sent the pitchers to their alternate training site on Friday after the two broke team rules and Major League Baseball coronavirus protocol last weekend in Chicago.

Clevinger and Plesac drove to Detroit separately with their baseball equipment on Thursday for an “open forum” meeting at the team’s hotel before the Indians opened a series with the Tigers.

Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said following “the discussion” that he met with manager Terry Francona, general manager Mike Chernoff and decided it was best to option Plesac and Clevinger to the alternate training site instead of allowing them to rejoin the team.

“We had a chance to meet as small group and decided this would be the best path of action for us,” Antonetti said.

So before the opener, the Indians activated Clevinger and Plesac from the restricted list and optioned them to Lake County.

It’s a stunning slide for the right-handers and close friends, both considered important pieces for the Indians. There’s no indication when they may be back on Cleveland’s roster. They’ll have to be at Lake County for at least 10 days.

Last weekend, the pitchers broke the team’s code of conduct implemented during the pandemic by leaving the team hotel and having dinner and socializing with friends of Plesac’s and risking contracting the virus.

While the Indians got a car service to take Plesac back to Cleveland, Clevinger flew home with the team after not telling the Indians he had been out with his teammate.

Although both players have twice tested negative for COVID-19 this week, the Indians aren’t ready to have them back.

Earlier this week, pitcher Adam Plutko said he felt betrayed.

“They hurt us bad,” Plutko said after Cleveland’s lost 7-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. “They lied to us. They sat here in front of you guys and publicly said things that they didn’t follow through on.”

Antonetti was asked if there are still hard feeling in the clubhouse toward the pair.

“We’re all a family,” Antonetti said. “We spend a lot of time together. Sometimes there are challenges in families you have to work through. I’d use that analogy as it applies here. There are things that have happened over the course of the last week that have been less than ideal and people have some thoughts and feelings about that.”

Both Clevinger and Plesac issued apologies in the days after their missteps. However, on Thursday, the 25-year-old Plesac posted a six-minute video on Instagram in which he acknowledged breaking team curfew but then aimed blame at the media, saying he and Clevinger were being inaccurately portrayed as “bad people.”

Antonetti said he watched the video.

“I’m not sure Zach was able to convey what he intended to convey in the video after having a chance to speak with him afterwards,” he said. “I think if he had a do-over, he may have said things a bit differently.”

Francona also felt Plesac could have chosen a better way to handle the aftermath.

“I was disappointed,” he said.