Angels and Mariners players throw punches in benches-clearing brawl

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Several members of the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels scuffle after Mariners' Jesse Winker was hit by a pitch during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Players and coaches on the Angels and Mariners fight during a benches-clearing brawl in the second inning at Angel Stadium on Sunday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It took less than two innings for Sunday’s Angels matinee against the Seattle Mariners to turn into a fight in the Octagon.

Angels right-hander Andrew Wantz hit Jesse Winker with a pitch in the second inning, prompting Mariners manager Scott Servais to motion for Wantz, who was serving as an opener, to be ejected. Both teams and Wantz were given warnings in the first inning after he threw inside to Julio Rodriguez.

The bad blood between the teams started in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game, when Mariners reliever Erik Swanson threw toward Mike Trout’s head. The umpires, though, downplayed any issues stemming from that game.

“That was nothing for us to issue warnings today,” crew chief Adrian Johnson said after the Angels' 2-1 Sunday. “What happened today was a guy got hit. We had warnings in. … All the other details will go in our incident report and you’ll get it from Major League Baseball.”

On Sunday after getting hit, Winker was already exchanging words with the Angels’ dugout, before plate umpire John Bacon and Johnson could try to defuse the situation. Winker then started pushing toward the Angels’ dugout and the benches and bullpens cleared. Anthony Rendon, recovering from season-ending wrist surgery, was one of the first out of the dugout and he shoved his left hand into Winker’s face.

A brawl ensued, with the pack pushing into the back netting between the dugout and home plate.  J.P. Crawford of the Mariners jumped over his teammates to get one of the Angels with his fist.

Winker ended up near the bottom of a pile of players, as he scuffled with Angels reliever Ryan Tepera. Recent Angels call-up Monte Harrison and left fielder Brandon Marsh were among the players trying to separate Tepera and Winker.

“Protect my teammates. That's the first thing I thought,” Marsh said. “I saw Tep was in there pretty deep and at the bottom of the pile, so I went and tried to try to rescue him as much as I could, but it was a lot to a little in that area.

“You don't want to see people getting stepped on, cleated, hit, punched, I should say.”

After the commotion on the field started to die down, Angel Stadium fans starting chanting “Let’s go Angels!” before another fight broke out.

Seattle's Jesse Winker, left, fights with injured Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon during the second inning Sunday.
Seattle's Jesse Winker, left, fights with injured Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon during the second inning Sunday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Angels starter Noah Syndergaard and Rodriguez were among those who needed to be held back from the big group.

Winker, as he went back to his dugout, made an obscene gesture to the crowd. A short time later, he came out of the dugout and raised his middle fingers to the crowd again.

“The only thing I’m going to apologize for is flipping the fans off,” Winker said. “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.”

Angels closer Raisel Iglesias, a teammate of Winker’s on the Cincinnati Reds from 2017-2020, was among the players ejected, and in response grabbed the box of sunflower seed packs from the dugout and launched them onto the field, scattering them onto the third-base line.

Iglesias said he did not have a problem with Winker, but got angry because he was ejected without having done anything.

“I don’t know why they ejected me, I never even threw a punch,” Iglesias said in Spanish. “I was just analyzing the situation and the umpire ejected me from the game, which is why I had the attitude I had.”

The Angels dugout emptied again, the rest of the bullpen figuring whether to make their way back toward their teammates. Iglesias also threw a bucket of bubblegum on the infield, landing between second and third base, and knocked over the coolers in the dugout.

Eight players and managers were ejected: Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, Iglesias, Tepera, Wantz, Servais, Winker, Rodriguez and Crawford.

Angels players Taylor Ward, left, and Matt Duffy, right, and a batboy pick up gum that was thrown on the field.
Angels players Taylor Ward, left, and Matt Duffy, right, and a batboy pick up gum that was thrown on the field. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Wantz said he did not know what happened between Trout and Swanson on Saturday because he was in the clubhouse getting treatment during the game. His mentality going into the game was on helping the team win.

“I was pretty amped up for my first start,” he said after the game. “And the first one kind of just got away from me… I was sweating, the first day game I've ever pitched in, and that's that. Second one to Winker was a fastball inside, it just yanked it. That's all I gotta say.”

The Angels restarted the game with José Suarez on the mound. Suarez was already set to come in for Wantz as the bulk guy in the game — though when he and Wantz were supposed to switch off was dependent on Wantz going as long as he could.

“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 [and not] put the tying run on base,” Mariners starter Marco Gonzalez said, “it’s just classless to come out and change your pitcher before the game. It’s clear. The intention is clear.

“They called down to the bullpen right after the first pitch was thrown,” Gonzalez continued. “They knew what they were doing. … I feel like we handled the situation well and stayed within ourselves and just tried to go win a ballgame. … You can’t say the same for what they’re doing over there.”

The Mariners put Adam Frazier in to pinch run for Winker. Frazier remained in the game at left field. They also replaced Rodriguez with Taylor Trammel at center, then slotted in Abraham Toro at second base and shifted Dylan Moore to shortstop.

The fight caused about an 18-minute delay in the game.

Seattle's J.P. Crawford, left, confronts several Angels players during Sunday's bench-clearing brawl.
Seattle's J.P. Crawford, left, confronts several Angels players during Sunday's bench-clearing brawl. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Look, you play eight games in a matter of a week against the same team, things like this happen,” Nevin said. “I mean, the scheduling. Tensions just — that's baseball sometimes.

“Unfortunately, there's some ugly incidences once in a while and I think this is what happened today."

Not since the June 2, 1998, brawl against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium have the Angels fought an opponent for so long and with such ferocity.

That game featured two benches-clearing incidents, including a ninth-inning melee that delayed the game for 15 minutes, and a dozen ejections. Nevin, a catcher on that Angels team, started the first brawl when he charged the mound in the seventh inning after getting hit by a pitch for the second time in the game.

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.