No punches were thrown, but the Guardians blew a one-run lead in the ninth and lost 5-3 to the Chicago White Sox Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.
One day after a fight involving Jose Ramirez, Tim Anderson and both teams caused a 14-minute delay, neither side participated in any fireworks of that sort.
The Guardians entered the ninth holding a 3-2 lead and with closer Emmanuel Clase on the mound. With two outs and two runners on, Oscar Colas grounded a ball to third baseman Brayan Rocchio, who collected it but committed a throwing error that extended the game and loaded the bases. Zach Remillard followed with another grounder to third, but another Rocchio error allowed a run to score.
Elvis Andrus then delivered the dagger with a two-run single back up the middle. Little did fans know at the time, but this was just a teaser for what this series had in store for them. The real showdown happened on Saturday night.
Jose Ramirez hit a ball right over first base and slid into second base for a hustle double. Ramirez felt Anderson cheap-shotted him with the tag and we all know the rest. “Down goes Anderson! Down goes Anderson!”
This brawl resulted in both players and managers being ejected along with a number of other players such as Emmanuel Clase. During Saturday’s game, Anderson and Guardians infielder Gabriel Arias were jawing back and forth enough that an umpire told Anderson to “knock it off,” according to Francona.
That led to the sixth inning, when Ramirez slid into second base and Anderson again applied a hard tag and stood over him. The two exchanged heated words, Anderson dropped his glove and then both squared off with one another, as if they suddenly became the main event on fight night. Anderson missed twice before Ramirez connected.
From there, it was chaos. Both benches emptied. Several players and coaches had to be held back. Two separate times, the fracas seemed to be dying down, only to be reignited with more shoving and yelling somewhere else in the huge crowd. The third and final incident involved Guardians third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, one of the most mild-mannered coaches around.
The Guardians were losing the game when Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez hit a double down the first base line.
Ramirez slid head first into second base. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson took issue with the way Ramirez slid. Words were exchanged. Heated words.
When Ramirez rose to his feet, Anderson stood in a typical fighter’s position, fists poised to strike. It is reported that Anderson challenged Ramirez to a fight. He even flicked his finger, striking Ramirez.
Cleveland knew it didn’t have its first-string defenders in the field. The club’s usual first baseman, Josh Naylor, is on the IL with a right oblique strain. Utility man David Fry was unavailable due to a tight hamstring, according to manager Terry Francona. The Guardians started Calhoun at first base even though he hasn’t made a big league appearance there since 2015. When the organization acquired the 35-year-old veteran on Friday, Francona talked with him about the possibility of playing first.
“I said, ‘You tell me. I don’t want to do something with a player that is unfair,’” Francona explained on Friday. “But he’s willing to try and I think that’s good.”
With a one-run lead in the ninth, the Guardians approached Calhoun and asked him about possibly sending in a defensive replacement, although their options were limited.
To do that, they would have had to put in prospect José Tena, who just made his debut on Saturday, at shortstop and move Arias to first base or have been willing to lose the designated hitter spot by putting Ramírez in at third, moving Rocchio from third to short and then moving Arias to first.
“I don’t know that you’re making yourself better, taking your shortstop [to a different position],” Francona said. The Guardians (54-58) did all of their damage in the fifth. Trailing 2-0, Gabriel Arias tied it with a two-run home run to left field. Later, with a runner on second, Myles Straw hit a grounder back to the pitcher. The ball was knocked around the infield and thrown away by Elvis Andrus. That error allowed Rocchio to score, giving the Guardians a 3-2 lead.
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