I was not looking forward to the A’s having to return to the place where horrific things went down at the end of last season. But I wasn’t expecting this. But at least we’re not talking about that Wild Card game anymore, right?
I’m not going to defend Brett Lawrie’s slide into Alicdes Escobar in the Friday night game. It was late and it was dangerous. However, I don’t think he was trying to actually injury Escobar – he was trying to break up the play. Whether or not there was the possibility of a double play is irrelevant. There was no way for Lawrie to know that as he barreled toward second base in the middle of baseball action. But regardless of the game situation, he made a poor decision to slide late and into Escobar. He also apologized for it. We all do stuff like that in real life. We make mistakes and then we apologize for them.
The unspoken rule in baseball is an eye for an eye. You do something to my guy and you get hit. It’s kind of silly but it’s expected. We all knew that Lawrie would end up wearing one sometime this weekend, and it happened Saturday when Yordano Ventura drilled Lawrie with a pitch in the elbow after the A’s jumped to a 5-0 lead. Lawrie walked to first base, Ventura was tossed, matter closed. Well, it should have been, but it wasn’t.
At the beginning of Sunday’s game, CSN California showed Lawrie and Lorenzo Cain smiling and shaking hands before the game, to indicate that the A’s and Royals were all friends again. This game would go smoothly and without incident, right? Only it was the complete opposite of that. It went from a little tiff to downright ugly. Scott Kazmir hit Cain in the foot with a pitch in the first inning and it got the Royals riled up. Now I don’t believe Kazmir was trying to hit Cain. I know fans tend to side with their own teams in these matters, but I don’t think this is that. It was the first inning in a game in which the A’s used their long man the previous night for 3 2/3 innings. Their bullpen is shaky at best and they don’t have another day off for seven more days. Basically, they could not afford to lose their starting pitcher three batters into Sunday’s game. Pitch location or not, there was just no reason for them to be trying to hit someone.
Warnings were issued to both benches, though apparently several members of the Royals thought Kazmir shouldn’t have gotten off so easily and three people, including manager Ned Yost, were ejected. Again, the matter should have been over still, but Kelvin Herrera apparently wasn’t over it, as he threw a 100 m.p.h. pitch behind Lawrie in the 8th inning and was immediately ejected. Now he could have made a case that it was not intentional, but then he had to go and gesture to Lawrie and point at his head. That’s baseball sign language for, “Next time I’m going to drill you in the head.” Not good. Not good at all, ever.
So tensions remain high as the A’s leave Kansas City and head to Los Angeles to finish the rest of season’s first road trip. The A’s and Royals will meet again in June in Oakland, and I really hope that by then enough time will have passed that there won’t be any more of this drama. If there is any drama that series, it will be embarrassing for all involved.
And speaking of things being embarrassing, how about the bullpen coughing up yet another late lead? It’s still so early in the season, but that’s becoming a trend already. How about less drama, fewer bullpen meltdowns and more winning in the coming week. Go A’s…