KANSAS CITY -– A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie was irate after having a 100 mile-per-hour fastball thrown behind him Sunday by Kansas City reliever Kelvin Herrera.
That moment was the climax to a wild day that saw five Royals get ejected during a 4-2 victory over Oakland.
Herrera was tossed immediately after throwing a 1-0 pitch behind Lawrie in the top of the eighth. It was obvious to tell the pitch was intentional, and it continued the carry-over from Lawrie’s hard slide Friday night that injured Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. What sent Lawrie into a fury was the fact that Herrera pointed to his own head walking off the field and then pointed at Lawrie.
“That’s what got me hot,” Lawrie said afterward, his voice rising as he addressed the issue. “That’s what got me mad. You don’t throw behind someone and then walk away when you throw 100 miles per hour, and say, ‘The next time I face you, I’m gonna hit you in the head.’ That’s sh--.
“That’s some bull----, and he needs to pay for that. That ain’t OK. This is a game. This isn’t going up there and trying to hurt people. This guy doesn’t throw 85mph. He throws 100.”
In watching the replay of Herrera’s gesture, it’s fair to draw the conclusion that he may have been sending a message that he would throw at Lawrie again. But as Herrera addressed Kansas City reporters afterward, he said about the gesture to his head: “I said, ‘Think about it.’”
And what about the pitch behind Lawrie? “I had a bad grip on it. It started raining pretty good.”
It was clear from his body language as he walked off the mound that Herrera knew exactly where the ball was going.
Lawrie’s aggressive slide that injured Escobar on Friday started this feud between the A’s and Royals. Lawrie says he texted Escobar on Friday night to express his sympathies – Escobar denies that he got a text – and Lawrie was hit in the elbow Saturday by Royals starter Yordano Ventura. Ventura was immediately ejected.
It seemed that might be the end of the drama. But in the bottom of the first Sunday, A’s starter Scott Kazmir hit Royals No. 3 hitter Lorenzo Cain with a fastball in the left foot. Royals manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland both were ejected while arguing about that incident. Kazmir said afterward that the pitch was not intentional.
“I think anyone who has a feel for the game, they would know that it’s not intentional,” Kazmir said. “I don’t think anyone tries to throw at someone’s toe or whatever (if they want to hit them). I tried to throw a fastball in. I tried to throw it hard and get a little more on it because he’s quick inside, and I just pulled it. That’s all it was.”
Lawrie stayed relatively calm immediately after the eighth-inning pitch behind his back, but when he saw Herrera point at his own head, Lawrie snapped. He had to be restrained near the A’s dugout.
“It’s just embarrassing,” Lawrie said. “They’ve got seven guys in the bullpen and each of them can touch 100, and I can’t even get in the box and do my job without thinking he can miss with one up and in. There’s no room for that.”
He was asked if he thought Herrera should be punished by Major League Baseball.
“One hundred percent. How can there not?” Lawrie said. “You think they’re just going to get away with that? That’s absolute sh--. Are you kidding me?”
Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Kansas City’s acting manager by that point, was tossed from the game after arguing with umpires over the incident. Escobar, who didn’t play and was arguing from the bench, also got thrown out.
A’s manager Bob Melvin did not see Herrera’s gesture but said: “The gesture to me was throwing over the top of his head. Behind him, or over the top.”
Injured A’s closer Sean Doolittle, who is not traveling with the team on its current road trip, expressed his thoughts on Twitter after Herrera’s wayward pitch.
“Bush league,” Doolittle tweeted.
He then followed up: “Don't point at your head after you throw at someone that's hot garbage.”