Benches cleared and even the stands emptied during Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tempers flaring at last between the AL West rivals months after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers.
The Athletics’ ninth straight win was far overshadowed by what erupted in the seventh inning at the Coliseum.
Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch – for the third time in the three-game series – this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him.
Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued.
Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing Covid-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field.
Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to “get back to the dugout!” through a ballpark with no fans.
Oakland batters were hit five times during the series, no Houston hitters were plunked.
A’s catcher Austin Allen was also ejected and Astros manager Dusty Baker was tossed a half inning earlier. Houston lost their fifth in a row overall.
The commissioner’s office has said that arguments and bench-clearing altercations will be more harshly penalized in an effort to curtail unnecessary physical contact as much as possible.
Ex-Astros player Fiers didn’t pitch this series. He went public to the Athletic in November about Houston’s detailed sign-stealing scam. The Astros have won the past three division crowns, a World Series in 2017 and AL pennant last year. The A’s won 97 each in 2018 and ’19 only to lose the AL wild card game.
Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the third and Matt Chapman connected the very next pitch, taking the score from 1-0 to 5-0 on consecutive offerings from Astros starter Cristian Javier (1-1).
Robbie Grossman also homered and Mark Canha contributed an RBI single.
The A���s (12-4) matched the 2013 club for the best record after 16 games over the last 30 years.
A’s rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned his first major league win in his second career start. His day was done after allowing back-to-back two-out walks in the sixth.
The 22-year-old Luzardo outdid the 23-year-old Javier in a matchup of two top pitching prospects.