ARLINGTON -- The rivalry between the Blue Jays and Rangers turned ugly on Sunday afternoon as a pair of bench-clearing incidents overshadowed Texas' 7-6 victory.
The fracas started when Jose Bautista was hit by a pitch from right-hander Matt Bush during the eighth, but the scene turned chaotic later in that frame. Bautista made a hard slide into second base and made contact with the legs of second baseman Rougned Odor and everything went downhill from there.
Odor took exception to the play and the two got into a physical altercation. Bautista and Josh Donaldson were ejected from the Blue Jays' side, while Odor and bench coach Steve Buechele got tossed on the Rangers' side. That was the first of two incidents as Toronto retaliated when Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with a pitch in the bottom half of the inning.
The situation completely clouded what was an otherwise back-and-forth affair. Toronto had a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, but Desmond changed that with one swing of the bat on a three-run shot to left-center field. That allowed the Rangers to escape with a 2-1 series victory in the final time these two teams play each other this season.
"We had another opportunity here to kind of test ourselves against them and came out on top," Desmond said. "Not to say it was easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt like we rose to the occasion a little bit, which was good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bad blood boils over: When benches cleared in the top of the eighth, virtually everyone in uniform from both teams gathered in a scrum behind second base for several minutes. Three batters were hit by pitches and four players were ejected. Bautista, who angered the Rangers with his flamboyant bat flip after his homer in Game 5 of last year's American League Division Series, was hit by a 96-mph pitch, and then slid high and hard into second base as Odor attempted to turn a double play. Odor's throw sailed wide, and after the two players came to their feet, Odor shoved Bautista with both hands, Bautista pushed back, and Odor punched Bautista in the jaw. In total, there were eight ejections in the game.
"These are two ballclubs that obviously are playing hard to win baseball games and are emotional," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I take offense to anybody that ever thinks that this is a game that shouldn't be played hard, that shouldn't be played with emotion and intensity, and that's what you do on a baseball field."
"Ugly and unfortunate," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "To me, it was gutless. We've played seven games ... the other 29 teams out there, if they have an issue with you, they come at you right away. To wait until the end, that just kind of tells me a little something."
Desmond goes deep: Down 6-3, the Rangers got a leadoff double from Mitch Moreland to start the seventh, and he scored on Ryan Rua's double-play groundout. Bryan Holaday walked and Odor reached on an infield single, bringing up Desmond, who homered to left to put the Rangers ahead.
"I was telling myself when I was there, you're prepared for this, you're prepared for this, and I was able to execute some good swings, fouled a couple off but the swings were still coming out good," Desmond said.
Making them pay: Texas made a series of defensive miscues in the sixth inning that enabled the Blue Jays' to put together a rally despite their struggling offense. Odor made an error on a grounder by Michael Saunders and later did not cover first base on a bunt by Darwin Barney. Shortstop Elvis Andrus bobbled a ball and could not turn a potential inning-ending double play. All of the lapses allowed Bautista to step into the batter's box with the bases loaded and two outs. He immediately made Texas pay with a three-run double to the gap in left-center field. Prior to that, Toronto was 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
The right men for the job: Twice, Rangers relievers put out fires and kept innings from getting much worse. Cesar Ramos got into trouble in the fifth and loaded the bases, so the Rangers called on rookie left-hander Andrew Faulkner to face switch-hitter Justin Smoak, and the move worked: Smoak grounded into a double play on Faulkner's third pitch to end the inning. Then, after Tom Wilhelmsen loaded the bases without recording an out in the seventh, Bush came in and struck out Barney looking, allowed a sacrifice fly to Kevin Pillar and got Donaldson to fly out to center. Bush earned his first career win in his second Major League appearance.
"It's a little strange because it's the first time I've done that all year, I've come in clean innings all year," Bush said. "In a situation like that, when I have runners on base and no outs, I'm looking to try to strike guys out, limit the damage, and throw strikes."
"[I was] pretty surprised and obviously that's the only reason he got me. He got me pretty good so I have to give him that. But it takes a little bit of a bigger man, I guess, to knock me down." -- Bautista, on Odor's punch
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Beltre's solo home run in the sixth inning marked the first homer that Aaron Sanchez has surrendered to a right-handed batter in the Majors.
Blue Jays first-base coach Tim Leiper was ejected in the top of the third inning after a prolonged dispute with first-base umpire Dale Scott. Leiper appeared to be upset that Ramos was not called for a balk before Donaldson flied out to left field.
Toronto manager John Gibbons was then ejected in the bottom half of the inning for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Sanchez and catcher Russell Martin believed they had a third strike on Odor, but the pitch was instead called a ball as the at-bat continued. Martin held the ball in place for several seconds and then turned around to exchange words with Iassagona. Gibbons ran out of the dugout and was quickly ejected for the third time this year.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (5-0, 2.05 ERA) will take the mound Monday at 7:07 p.m. ET when the Blue Jays return home for a three-game series against division-rival Tampa Bay. Happ has surrendered three runs or fewer in all seven of his starts this season. The streak is at 17 outings when including last year.
Rangers: Lefty Derek Holland will try to work his way out of the doldrums as the Rangers begin a three-game series in Oakland at 9:05 p.m. CT on Monday. Holland did not make it out of the third inning in either of his last two starts.