BALTIMORE -- Tempers flared and the benches cleared when Orioles third baseman Manny Machado charged the mound after being hit in the back by Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in the fifth inning of the Orioles' 9-1 victory on Tuesday.
Ventura took a swing at Machado that didn't connect before Machado landed a punch. The two tumbled to the ground at the middle of the scuffle, which was defused quickly. Both players were ejected.
The fracas came with Baltimore leading, 5-1, but the tension started in the second inning, during Machado's previous at-bat. Ventura threw inside a few times before Machado blasted a drive to left. Thinking he had homered, Machado stood and admired his shot, only to see it be blown back in play and caught for the second out of the inning. The two exchanged some words -- though Machado said he didn't hear what Ventura said -- with first-base umpire CB Bucknor shooing Machado back to the dugout.
"I'm not happy about it at all," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought [Ventura] was trying to hit him the at-bat before. That's why I talked to [Machado] before he took his last at-bat. I think he signaled breaking ball and shook to fastball. I don't like when any of my guys are put in harm's way, especially a guy throwing that hard and having some problems with his command tonight."
Showalter's concern was justified, as Ventura drilled Machado with his first pitch in the next at-bat, hitting him square in the back with his hardest pitch of the night -- a 99-mph fastball. Machado stormed out of the batter's box and made a beeline for Ventura as both dugouts hurried to break things up and players ran in from the bullpen.
"I don't regret anything. It's part of the game. Reactions fly," Machado said. "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 through his interpreter that he didn't intentionally hit Machado.
"Coming into today, my plan was fastballs inside and breaking balls in the dirt. One got away and that was it," Ventura said, adding that he was surprised Machado charged the mound. "I was surprised kind of. Everyone knows what kind of player [Machado] is. Everybody has to defend themselves at that point."
The loss was the sixth in a row for the Royals, who were swept by the Indians in a four-game series over the weekend and have tumbled out of first place. They were also dealt a season-ending injury to third baseman Mike Moustakas, while left fielder Alex Gordon is expected to miss several weeks with a fractured wrist.
So it has been a frustrating run for the Royals, but does that mean Ventura was at fault?
"That's a tough question to answer," Royals manager Ned Yost. "You know, Ventura, in Manny's first at-bat, was pitching him in. Obviously, he didn't like it; flew out and was screaming at Ventura. I'm thinking 'OK, he's going to pitch him inside again.' I mean, looked to me like he got away [from that]. I don't know. That's something you're going to have to ask [Ventura], but I don't know who's at fault there."
"I had a great view," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "I just think that things like that shouldn't happen in baseball, man. You throw 100 miles per hour, or close to 100 miles per hour, you're trying to hurt somebody intentionally -- not part of the game. You see the reaction by his players [on the Royals]. They weren't too happy that he did something so stupid. But I'm glad for Manny for defending himself. Screw it. Defend yourself. If somebody's trying to hurt you maliciously, you go out there and you defend yourself."
Ventura, of course, has a well-documented temper that got him into trouble on multiple occasions last season. He hit a pair of Orioles last September and was involved in several incidents last April. Among those was the Royals' brouhaha with the White Sox on April 25, 2015, for which Ventura was suspended seven games. Tuesday's ejection was the third of his career.
"Not the first time," Showalter said of Ventura's loss of composure. "Obviously, it must be something that's OK, because he continues to do it. It must be condoned. I don't know."
"We knew how hot his temper is and how things would play out," Machado said, "but I was just going up there trying to put more runs on the board. He came in on me and hit me with a 99-mph fastball. Ninety-nine is no joke. You can ruin somebody's career like that. It just played out how it played out."
Machado has let his temper get the best of him before, too. He was suspended five games in 2014 for throwing a bat. Tuesday marked his fourth career ejection. Machado was replaced by Paul Janish, who scored on Mark Trumbo's homer off Ventura's replacement, Chien-Ming Wang.
"Zero surprise factor," Trumbo said. "It's unfortunate. I think it's probably been said quite a few times. That's not the reason we play this game, you know. It's important for everyone that's at this level and in the game, period, to go about their business the right way. This isn't the type of stuff that's good for the game. And it's unfortunate, but you have to deal with it."