ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jose Bautista slid hard into second base, stood up and found himself face-to-face with Texas’ Rougned Odor.
Next thing the Toronto slugger knew, he was rattled by a punch to the jaw that sent his batting helmet and sunglasses flying.
A feud simmering since Bautista’s bat flip in last year’s AL Division Series boiled over into a wild brawl that ultimately triggered six of the eight ejections in the Blue Jays’ 7-6 loss on Sunday.
“I was pretty surprised,” Bautista said. “I mean, obviously, that’s the only reason that he got me and he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down.”
Perhaps it’s a good thing the Rangers and Blue Jays have played for the final time this season. As for the playoffs, well, that would be interesting.
Texas is headed to Oakland, and the Blue Jays back home to Toronto, the site of last year’s emotional meeting in the playoffs. That’s when Bautista capped a wild seventh inning with a clutch three-run homer and the monumental bat flip that angered Texas.
This time, Bautista was upset by getting hit by an eighth-inning pitch from 30-year-old Texas rookie Matt Bush (1-0), who got his first major league win two days after his debut — and 12 years after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Toronto manager John Gibbons, who was ejected in the third inning over an argument about balls and strikes, came back to the field for the brawl.
He suggested the Rangers were finally retaliating for Bautista’s bat flip in the eighth inning of the last of seven games between the teams this season. Texas beat Toronto in a series for the first time since 2012, but the Blue Jays had a 4-3 edge for the season.
“It was ugly and unfortunate,” Gibbons said. “To me, it was gutless. The other 29 teams, they come at you right away, but to wait until the end, it just sort of tells you something. Everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, it was a one-run game. The ball got away.’ That ain’t going to fly.”
Crew chief Dale Scott told a pool reporter that Gibbons’ return “will be in the report and Major League Baseball will take care of it.”
“I didn’t want to sit here and drink too much wine,” Gibbons said. “Ya got to go out there. I’m sure the league will say something about that but it’s kind of the manager’s responsibility.”
Bautista, who was kept out of most of the melee by a bear hug from Texas veteran Adrian Beltre, was ejected as a result of the brawl. Same for Odor — who shoved Bautista before punching him — along with Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Texas bench coach Steve Buechele.
After the field was finally cleared, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch when the game resumed. He was ejected automatically because of the warning issued after Bush hit Bautista.
Blue Jays bench coach Demarlo Hale also was tossed because of Chavez’s pitch because he was filling in for Gibbons.
Toronto first base coach Tim Leiper was ejected in the third inning in a separate dispute before Gibbons was tossed.
“I think it was just two hard-nosed baseball teams that play the game hard,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister, who exchanged words with Gibbons as the field was being cleared. “They like their club. We like our club. I take offense to everybody that thinks this is a game that shouldn’t be played hard, that it shouldn’t be played with emotion and intensity.”
Odor wasn’t available to reporters after the game.
Ian Desmond greeted Chavez (0-1) with a three-run homer with two outs in the seventh, giving Texas a 7-6 lead with a drive to the seats above the tall wall in left field.
Bautista’s brawl-triggering slide forced Odor to throw wildly to first on an attempted double play on a grounder by Justin Smoak, but Texas was awarded an inning-ending double play on the Chase Utley rule.
Sam Dyson, who gave up Bautista’s memorable homer in last year’s playoffs, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.
Bautista gave Toronto a 5-2 lead with a three-run double in the sixth. Troy Tulowitzki had three hits and scored two runs.
Blue Jays: LHP Brett Cecil was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a muscle strain in his left arm. RHP Dustin Antolin was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. Cecil said he felt soreness in his left triceps after a seven-pitch outing in Saturday’s 6-5 loss.
Rangers: RHP Yu Darvish will make his fourth rehab start Tuesday for Double-A Frisco at Midland. Darvish will have a limit of five innings or 75 pitches.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (5-0, 2.05 ERA) starts Monday night’s opener of a three-game series at home against Tampa Bay. Happ has won seven straight decisions and 12 of 13 going back to last season.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 6.09 ERA) opens a three-game series at Oakland on Monday night coming off two of the worst outings of his career. He gave up 19 hits and 16 runs, 15 earned, in five innings combined against Toronto and the Chicago White Sox. The latter was interrupted by a rain delay of more than an hour.