Tempers flare, O's knock 4 HRs to power past Royals
By Ryan Baillargeon and Jeffrey Flanagan
BALTIMORE -- With Kansas City in the midst of a five-game losing streak, tensions boiled over in the Orioles' 9-1 win over the Royals on Tuesday night when Kansas City righty Yordano Ventura plunked Manny Machado with a 99-mph fastball. The benches cleared and the bullpens emptied as Machado charged the mound, overshadowing another strong offensive night for Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"I don't regret anything," Machado said. "It's part of the game. Reactions fly. When somebody's throwing 99 at you, it's going to hurt. You can ruin someone's career. You don't think in that situation. You just react to it."
Ventura said he doesn't think he should be suspended.
"I don't think that should be in order," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "My plan was to pitch inside and one got away. And things happened, and benches cleared.
"I just have to protect myself and defend myself. I just can't stand there."
The Orioles scored four runs in the first and held a 5-1 advantage during the fracas before taking a commanding lead when play finally resumed. Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis, the first two batters after the ejections, went back-to-back as part of a four-homer night for the Orioles, who have seven long balls in the series.
O's starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched around nine hits and three walks to hold the Royals to one run in five-plus innings for his first win in a month. Kansas City went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and have scored four runs in their last five games.
"That's something I haven't been able to do the past four or five games, minimize the damage," said Jimenez, who entered with a 6.59 ERA. "I think that's what we did tonight."
Ventura allowed hits to the first four batters he faced, putting the Royals in an early hole. He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and six runs before he was ejected in the fifth.
With the victory, the Orioles have won three in a row and six of their past seven games to maintain sole possession of first place in the American League East. Kansas City, meanwhile, has lost a season-high six straight contests and has been outscored on this road trip, 38-8.
Royals manager Ned Yost said frustrations have mounted with the losing streak and the altercation.
"I'm sure [there are frustrations]," Yost said, "Nobody likes that stuff to happen."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED O's power surge continues: The Orioles entered the night trailing only Tampa Bay in home runs with 83. Ryan Flaherty, who hadn't hit one out of the park this season, got it started with a 446-foot blast, per Statcast™, onto Eutaw Street to lead off the second. It was his second career homer to land on Eutaw Street and the 36th ever by an Oriole. In the fifth -- on the first batter after the altercation -- Trumbo hit his Major League-leading 20th homer. Davis left the yard on the next pitch, the 10th time the O's have gone back-to-back this season. Adam Jones joined in an inning later for his ninth of the year. More >
Punchless offense: The Royals' offensive woes marched on as they wasted several ideal scoring chances. In the second, they had Jimenez in trouble with runners on second and third and none out. But rookie Cheslor Cuthbert struck out, Reymond Fuentes flared one to short and Alcides Escobar grounded out. In the fourth, after Fuentes walked to plate a run, the Royals left the bases loaded when Escobar popped out to first, Whit Merrifield took a third strike and Lorenzo Cain, who made a brilliant catch to take away a homer from Pedro Alvarez in the first, flied out.
"Here lately, we've had a lot of opportunities," Yost said. "We had bases loaded and none out and only scored one run. Had other opportunities, too. Needed a big hit, just couldn't get it."
Playing with fire: Jimenez routinely found himself pitching in jams -- he permitted at least two baserunners to reach in each of the first five innings -- but he managed to routinely minimize the damage. Despite giving up nine hits and walking three, Jimenez surrendered fewer than two runs for the first time since his season debut on April 7. Even when he loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, he only allowed one run, which came on a walk to Fuentes.
"I thought he was fortunate," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Made some good defensive plays behind him. The end game statistically will look OK. That's a lot of pitches in five-plus. I thought he made some pitches when he had to, but I thought he was fortunate."
Life from Morales: Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales entered the game hitting .191 overall and .145 against right-handers. But Morales doubled in the second, singled and scored in the fourth and singled in the fifth. He also drew a walk in the seventh.
"Sure it feels good -- three hits," Morales said through an interpreter. "Three hits is three hits."
After Machado exchanged words with Ventura following his at-bat in the second inning, Ventura drilled him with a first-pitch 99-mph fastball in the fifth. Machado ripped off his helmet and charged the mound, punching Ventura in the head as the benches raced out toward the mound. After a long delay while the teams were separated, Ventura and Machado were ejected from the game. It was Ventura's third career ejection and Machado's fourth career ejection.
"When you go through the disappointment and heartache we had in '14 in Kansas City, it kinda, you have to sit there and take it. I think Manny and the team decided not to take it tonight." -- Showalter
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Merrifield attempted to steal second base down 5-0 in the third inning and was originally ruled safe. After a manager's challenge that lasted 1:17, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (5-5, 4.03 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the series finale. He gave up five runs in 6 1/3 innings last Friday in a 6-1 loss at Cleveland.
Orioles: With tensions running high, Baltimore will go for the series sweep with right-hander Chris Tillman (7-1, 3.33 ERA) on the hill. He carries a six-game winning streak into the matchup.