ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels were apparently in the mood to pick a fight Sunday after they were angered by a pitch near star Mike Trout’s head the night before.
And the Mariners gave the Angels the fight they were seemingly begging for.
After Andrew Wantz threw at — but missed — Julio Rodriguez in the first inning, Wantz hit Jesse Winker to open the second inning, and then things got out of control.
Winker started exchanging shouts with the Angels dugout and then made his way over there. A few seconds later, punches started flying.
Players ran from the benches and bullpens onto the field, and a full-scale brawl ensued. Just when it seemed to be calming, it was back on.
Finally, order was restored, but not before Angels reliever Raisel Iglesias threw boxes of sunflower seeds onto the field. And not before Winker started flipping off the crowd and had to be restrained from going after the Angels again.
After 18 minutes, the game finally resumed.
“It was very intense out there and it lasted a long time,” Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales said. “I am just glad no one got seriously hurt.”
Angels manager Phil Nevin and pitchers Wantz, Iglesias and Ryan Tepera were ejected. Mariners manager Scott Servais, Winker, shortstop J.P. Crawford and Rodriguez were also ejected.
“Certainly, there was a lot of stuff that probably shouldn’t happen in the game that happened today,” said Servais, who said he was sore after finding himself in the middle of the brawl, trying to calm things. “Emotions were running high and it was pretty clear what was going on. They switched to an opener [Wantz], who threw some balls at us. And it got out of hand from there. It was a black eye [on the game]. … I have often said that people show you who they are, and believe them. I will leave it at that.”
Said interim Angels manager Nevin: “Look, you play eight games in a matter of [11 days] against the same team, things like this happen. The scheduling, tensions, that’s baseball sometimes, unfortunately. There’s some ugly incidents once in a while. I think that’s just what happened today.”
All of those ejected will likely face suspensions. Crawford can be seen on video throwing punches. For a Mariners team already dealing with several injuries on offense, suspensions could prove costly.
The Angels came into the game angry because of an Erik Swanson pitch that got away in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night and was near Trout’s head.
After that game, Trout said to reporters: “If you can’t pitch inside, don’t pitch inside. And if you’re going to hit me, hit me in the ribs. Don’t hit me in the head.”
It became clear the Angels would retaliate when before the game they announced that Wantz would open for starter Jose Suarez.
It seemed that budding star Rodriguez would be an obvious target, so it was no surprise when Wantz’s first pitch to Rodriguez was high and so inside it went behind him.
Both teams were warned, and it seemed that might be the end of it.
“That’s usually how it goes,” Gonzales said. “They sent a message, and I thought that message was more than enough.”
But the Angels apparently didn’t think so as Wantz, instead of Suarez, started the second inning. Wantz didn’t miss Winker with the first pitch of the inning.
“To hit another guy after [throwing at Rodriguez] just shows us where they are at,” Gonzales said. “They showed us who they are. … My only comment is that it’s classless.”
After the game, Wantz denied that he was throwing at Rodriguez or Winker.
“I was pretty amped up for my first start, and the first one just got away from me,” Wantz said. “It was sweaty. I was sweating. First day game I’ve pitched in [in the majors], and that’s that. Second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside and [I] just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
The Mariners weren’t buying it.
“We’re not dumb,” Crawford said. “You don’t use an opener, especially when you have a good starter like Suarez. We all know what was going on.”
Winker didn’t have much to say about the incident after the game.
“They threw a ball over Julio’s head, and I really wasn’t trying to talk to them after [getting hit],” said Winker, who apologized for flipping off the fans.
Rodriguez said he was “just expecting to play a fun baseball game today” and didn’t notice tension before the game.
“But you guys all watched the game, and you saw what happened,” said Rodriguez, who said he didn’t know why he was ejected.
Servais said it could have affected things quite a bit had Wantz been ejected when he threw at Rodriguez. But there were no pregame warnings and Wantz remained in the game.
“I’m not aware of the incident with Trout from last night.” crew chief Adrian Johnson said through a pool reporter. “You’re talking about the pitch that went over his head. That was nothing for us to issue warnings today. What happened today was a guy got hit. We had warnings in.”
Crawford said: “We all saw what [the Angels were doing]. We’re not dumb.” He said he was not worried about a possible suspension.
“I’m going to do that 10 times out of 10 times,” Crawford said. “I got my boys’ back. I don’t care about any of that.”
The Mariners didn’t think what happened Saturday with Trout should have carried over into Sunday, and Servais noted that in “the last homestand, our guy [Justin Upton] got hit in the head [by the Angels].”
But it did carry over. Is it over now?
“Honestly, we’ll see,” Crawford said. “We’ll see.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.