Jose Bautista punched in face by Rangers' Rougned Odor
Second baseman retaliates for takeout slide by Toronto star
The Texas Rangers finally responded Sunday to Jose Bautista's infamous bat flip from last year's American League Division Series, resulting in Bautista getting punched in the face and a massive bench-clearing brawl.
In the last meeting of the year between Toronto and Texas, the hostilities began when Bautista was hit by a pitch from rookie reliever Matt Bush in the eighth inning.
The Toronto slugger reacted with a takeout slide on second baseman Rougned Odor, who then caught Bautista off guard and clocked him in the face in retaliation. That sparked a huge bench-clearing brawl between the bitter rivals.
"I was pretty surprised," said Bautista, who was staggered but did not go down. "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."
Bautista and Odor were ejected along with Toronto's Josh Donaldson and Texas bench coach Steve Buechele.
Toronto teammate Marcus Stroman came to Bautista's defence on Twitter.
Zero respect for Odor. Never had respect for him, never will.—@MStrooo6
While general manager John Gibbons, who was ejected earlier in the game, had a similar reaction to the Rangers' play and the questionable timing of the response.
"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."
Bautista made some enemies in the Rangers' dugout after last year's emphatic bat flip that followed a three-run, seventh-inning homer that propelled Toronto to an ALDS-clinching victory in Game 5.
Bush declined to elaborate on whether the plunking was meant to send a message to Bautista in the seventh and final meeting for the two teams in this year's regular season.
After the dust settled, the Rangers claimed a 7-6 victory.
With files from the Associated Press