A delayed start to the season meant it took 63 games until the Mariners faced the Angels for the first time in 2022.
It took only eight meetings between these teams over the past 11 days for these two clubs to apparently despise each other.
On Sunday, six players and both managers were ejected from the series finale in Anaheim — a game won by the Angels, 2-1 — after a benches-clearing incident in the second inning.
The incident, in which punches were thrown from those on both sides, took place by the Angels’ dugout on the third-base side and exceeded four minutes. It took about 18 minutes before play was restored, the Associated Press reported.
There were warnings issued to both teams in the first inning after Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz, who was named the starter earlier Sunday, threw a pitch behind Julio Rodríguez.
Then in the second inning, Wantz hit Jesse Winker in the right hip with a 91 mph fastball. Winker had words with the plate umpire, John Bacon, and Angels catcher Max Stassi, and appeared to be on his way to first base. But he veered away from that path when someone in the Angels’ dugout caught his ire.
The ejected included Mariners manager Scott Servais, Winker, J.P. Crawford and Rodríguez. On the Angels’ side, it was interim manager Phil Nevin, Wantz, Raisel Iglesias and Ryan Tepera.
The Mariners suspected that Wantz throwing behind Rodríguez was retribution for when pitcher Erik Swanson missed with a fastball that got close to Mike Trout’s head in Saturday’s game.
Anything beyond that, though, felt unnecessary to Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales.
“They sent their message (throwing behind Rodríguez), I thought that was more than enough. To hit another guy after that, they showed us who they are,” Gonzales said.
“My only comment is it’s classless. To throw at Julio, who’s a kid, over something that happened last night when we were trying to win a ballgame in the ninth inning … it’s just classless to come out and change your pitcher before the game. It’s clear. The intention is clear. They knew what they were doing.”
Benches clear in Anaheim after Jesse Winker is hit by a pitch.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 26, 2022
On June 17, former Angels outfielder Justin Upton — playing in his first game for the Mariners — was hit in the head by Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen. A day later, Lorenzen said slick baseballs caused the pitch to get away from him.
The game Sunday was the eighth between the two teams in 11 days.
“You play eight games in a matter of a week against the same team, things like this happen,” Nevin said. “The scheduling, tensions, that’s baseball sometimes, unfortunately. There’s some ugly incidents once in a while. I think that’s just what happened today.”
Servais wasn’t buying that.
“That’s pretty clear what he (Wantz) was put out there to do,” Servais said. “That probably shouldn’t happen in the game, what happened out there today. Emotions running high, but it was pretty clear what was going on. They switched, put an opener in there to throw some balls at us.”
Wantz denied there was any intent behind the pitch to Rodríguez in the first inning or the one that hit Winker in the second inning.
“I was pretty amped up for my first start, and the first one just got away from me,” Wantz told the Associated Press. “It was sweaty. I was sweating. First day game I have pitched in (the big leagues). (The) second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside and (I) just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Like Gonzales, Winker said he didn’t expect anything to happen in the second inning after Wantz’s pitch sailed behind Rodríguez. He was wrong.
“There was no intent behind Swanson’s pitch yesterday, so I came to work today ready to play a baseball game,” Winker said.
As Winker left the field after his ejection, he made obscene gestures with both of his hands at the Angels fans who were seated behind Seattle’s dugout on the first-base side. After the game, Winker said he regretted that.
“The only thing I’m going to apologize for is flipping the fans off,” Winker said. “That’s it. As fans, they’re spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play a game, and they didn’t deserve that. So I apologize to the fans, especially the women and children.”
Iglesias, apparently upset by his ejection, returned to the Angels dugout to grab a box of sunflower seeds and gum that he opted to throw on the field.
Winker didn’t just sit and watch the rest of the game from the visiting clubhouse. He had a snack, a pizza that was sent to the ballpark in his name from Mariners fan Sofie Dill, who lives in Little Rock, Ark., which is where the club’s Double-A affiliate plays.
I have confirmed that not only did Jesse Winker get the pizza, he said it was really good. So, there you go, @MountainMikes is on my list next time I’m in Anaheim. Thanks for the tip @sofieballgame https://t.co/Ek7Kc820Cr
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) June 27, 2022
The Mariners (34-40) won two of three games in the series against the Angels (35-40) and have won five of six games on this road trip. The Mariners return home Monday to face the Orioles.
The Mariners and Angels won’t play again until Aug. 15, a three-game series in Anaheim. Was Sunday’s incident the end of all of this? Only time will tell, but the Mariners certainly have more pressing matters ahead of them — as do the Angels.
“(We’ll) keep playing baseball, play the game the right way,” Servais said. “I don’t think there’s any point in getting to that point in the game today. This isn’t the 1960s and 1970s.”
(Photo of Jesse Winker: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)