Benches cleared Tuesday night during the Dodgers' 5-2 victory over the Astros in the first game between the teams since it was revealed that Houston stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series championship that came at Los Angeles’ expense.
The fracas occurred after Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly threw high-and-tight pitches to Astros stars Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa in the sixth inning.
"You don't throw at a guy's head," said new Astros' manager Dusty Baker. "That's playing dirty baseball.''
The Dodgers had a 5-2 lead after a five-run fifth when Kelly, who was with Boston in 2017 and also faced Houston that postseason, threw behind Bregman for ball four. Bregman grimaced after jumping to avoid being hit, then trotted to first base.
"It was a ball, obviously," Kelly said of the pitch to Bregman. "It wasn't my best pitch. I wasn't feeling the greatest. It took me a while to get into my mechanics."
There were two outs in the inning when Kelly threw an errant breaking ball over Correa’s head. Correa, who homered and finished with three hits, took off his batting helmet and stared Kelly down before continuing the at-bat.
Kelly struck out Correa, then stuck out his tongue and made a face in his direction. Correa started walking toward him and the players exchanged words, prompting the benches to clear in the first such incident of this pandemic-delayed season. There was plenty of yelling and crowding — outlawed as MLB tries to play a 60-game season amid the pandemic — but there was no pushing or punches thrown.
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"I don't remember the words, it was an 'in the moment' thing," said Kelly about the exchange with Correa. "I guess my expression was what I interpreted in my head of what he was saying."
Order was restored after a couple of minutes and there were no ejections, but Houston manager Dusty Baker was still upset before play resumed and got in the face of an umpire.
"What really enraged everybody was what he told Carlos [Correa] when he struck him out, "Nice swing b----!'' said Baker.
Houston was punished by the commissioners’ office in January for the sign-stealing scheme, which led to the firing of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. But many players around the league were unhappy that no players were disciplined for their roles in the cheating.
The Dodgers had harsh words for the Astros during spring training, but Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said before the game that he didn’t think his team would retaliate.
Brusdar Graterol (1-1) struck out two in a scoreless fifth for the win. Kenley Jansen allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for the save.
Houston starter Framber Valdez (0-1) permitted four hits and three runs — two earned — in 4 1/3 innings.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood was placed on the injured list with shoulder inflammation and RHP Josh Sborz was recalled to take his roster spot. ... Roberts said ace Clayton Kershaw, on the injured list with back stiffness, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. If that goes well Roberts said he could start Friday night.
Astros: Reliever Joe Biagini was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder soreness. The Astros selected right-hander Andre Scrubb to the major league roster to take his spot.
Right-hander Dustin May (0-0, 2.08 ERA) will start for the Dodgers when the series wraps up on Wednesday night. May allowed seven hits and one run in 4 1/3 innings on opening day. Baker hasn’t announced who will start for the Astros in place of Justin Verlander, who is on the injured list with a forearm strain.