Friendly fire between teammates could be just what the Doctor ordered for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are currently playing at the .500 mark on the season, average by most standards, but mediocre for the team with the highest payroll in baseball.
On Thursday, things reached a fever pitch when teammates Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal got into a heated exchange in the dugout during the team's eventual 8-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Dodgers had already erased a three-run deficit earlier in the game when they came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After a leadoff double by Trayce Thompson, and back-to-back RBI singles for Howie Kendrick and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers had cut the lead to 6-5 and had the tying run on third base with one-out for Turner.
Turner did his job, connecting with a deep fly ball to left field that was surely going to score Pederson, but a baserunning blunder of epic proportions nearly cost the team the game-tying run.
Grandal—who was on first base after a walk—inexplicably tagged on the play and was tagged out half a second after Pederson crossed home plate. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell challenged the call and the play was reviewed. Replays showed that Grandal was tagged at virtually the same time as Pederson prompting the heated exchange in the dugout.
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Cameras did not pick up the altercation, but the teammates had to be separated by veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick. Turner immediately went into the clubhouse to cool off and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went over to speak to Grandal.
"I told him the ball should stop," Roberts said. "It was a lot closer than it should have been. I applaud the aggressiveness, but obviously with the emotions things get heated."
Grandal admitted he had made a mistake after the game.
"I kind of just f------ up," Grandal said. "It's just the way it happens. Your teammates want to make sure you play smart, play the right way. I felt like if they are getting on you, they care about the fact that you should know better."
Teammates who witnessed the exchange also thought it came from a place of care and love.
"They only people I fight with are people I love," said Trayce Thompson, one of the youngest players on the team. "It was a situation where tempers flared up, but its only because they cared."
Turner couldn't remember a time in the past few years where a situation like that has happened before, but believes that it ultimately will be better for the team.
"The goal is to win a game every night," he said. "It's actually something that hasn't happened too much on this team in the three years I have been here. Things haven't been going great for us this year and the bottom line is that we want to win games. We're all competitors and sometimes you have a difference of opinion."
Grandal agrees that it could be just the spark needed to light a flame inside the underachieving Dodgers.
"I feel like if we get some fire within the team to get us going, it's fine," Grandal said after the game. "At times I feel like we're better than the other team and we lay back and relax instead of making it happen.
The Dodgers are currently just two games above .500 on the season (35-33) and are 6.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West, a division they have won three consecutive seasons.