The 53-minute seventh inning Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre had a little bit of everything.
Two bench-clearing jawing matches, a rare score on a throw back to the pitcher, three consecutive errors and a shower of debris thrown from unruly Toronto Blue Jays fans who for much of the evening seemed convinced the local team was being jobbed by the umpiring crew.
By the end of the inning, it all had turned bad for the Texas Rangers, who saw their one-run lead evaporate as the Blue Jays won Game 5 of the ALDS 6-3 to advance to the American League Championship Series.
It was just really classless. It’s baseball and stuff happens, but to put players and people in the stands in harm’s way throwing objects is ridiculous. I heard they almost hit a child, a little baby. That’s not the game we play. I know they can be upset about it but keep it safe for everybody.
Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields
The seventh-inning wackiness began when Rougned Odor alertly scampered home from third when catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to the pitcher deflected off Shin-Soo Choo’s hand on his bat and rolled down the third-base line. Odor immediately took off for home and scored easily.
At first, home plate umpire Dale Scott waved it off as a dead ball. But after Rangers manager Jeff Banister objected, Scott conferred with his crew and ruled the run counted as the Rangers took a 3-2 lead.
That didn’t sit well with the nearly 50,000 Blue Jays fans, many of whom started raining down beer cans and debris onto the field. Stadium employees rushed around the field trying to clean up the mess while police stationed throughout Rogers Centre tried to restore order. Several fans were escorted out of the stadium and at least one man was arrested after a beer he threw sprayed a baby, according to The Canadian Press.
“It was just really classless. It’s baseball and stuff happens, but to put players and people in the stands in harm’s way throwing objects is ridiculous,” Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields said. “I heard they almost hit a child, a little baby. That’s not the game we play. I know they can be upset about it but keep it safe for everybody.”
Others in the Rangers’ clubhouse weren’t as disturbed by the behavior. Mitch Moreland, who made the second of three Rangers errors that loaded the bases for Toronto in the bottom of the inning, was impressed by the atmosphere.
“All the Latin guys were saying it was kind of like playing winter ball,” said Moreland, who was 0 for 13 in the series. “I guess if they wanted to waste their beer it’s part of it. They were definitely into the game, though. It was a good environment. It was a lot of fun. It was a fun game, but we came out on the wrong end.”
Others weren’t as impressed.
“You play the game long enough you see all kinds of crazy stuff,” outfielder Josh Hamilton said. “It was just weird. I hope I never see it again.”
Hamilton said he chose to take warmup tosses closer to the middle of the field to stay out of throwing distance from fans. “It like, OK, let’s warm up close to second base and kind of ease out there. I think you kind of ignore it and not look up at people and stuff. You do that, it kind of draws attention.”
After Jose Bautista’s three-run homer and bat flip off Sam Dyson gave Toronto a 6-3 lead, another shower of debris came down as the benches cleared. They cleared again at the end of the inning when Troy Tulowitzki took exception to Dyson’s tap on the butt after the final out.
He said, ‘don’t touch me’ and things kind of escalated from there. Just a nice gesture on my part and they took it another way.
Rangers reliever Sam Dyson on his words with Troy Tulowitzki
“He said, ‘don’t touch me’ and things kind of escalated from there,” said Dyson, who allowed his first homer since Aug. 1. “Just a nice gesture on my part and they took it another way.”
The Blue Jays, incensed by the Odor score, filed an official protest, which meant the league would have had to make a ruling if the Rangers had held on to their lead. Three errors and a Bautista bomb took care of that.
“Craziest game I’ve ever been a part of,” a dazed and baffled DeShields said. “Rougie scoring on that play and the bottom half of the inning and how everything kind of happened. Dyson gave up a homer, he never gives up homers. It was really just a bizarre game. It’s just something in the universe, I don’t know. Baseball, anything can happen and that was a prime example.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760