CLEVELAND — The powder keg exploded Saturday night with a few punches thrown and one right hook landed. But the match was lit the night before.
Chicago White Sox infielder Tim Anderson was in the middle of all of it. And by the end of it all, Anderson was sent to the ground with a well-landed punch from Jose Ramirez.
In Friday’s game, replays show that Anderson pushed Guardians rookie Brayan Rocchio off second base with a tag at second base. The Guardians didn’t appreciate it, and the controversial call — Rocchio was called out even though Anderson pushed him off the bag rather than simply tagging him — eventually got manager Terry Francona ejected.
Guardians-White Sox fight videos: See the fight between Jose Ramirez, Tim Anderson, the Guardians and the White Sox
During Saturday’s game, Anderson and Guardians infielder Gabriel Arias were jawing back and forth enough that an umpire told Anderson to “knock it off,” according to Francona.
That led to the sixth inning, when Ramirez slid into second base and Anderson again applied a hard tag and stood over him. The two exchanged heated words, Anderson dropped his glove and then both squared off with one another, as if they suddenly became the main event on fight night. Anderson missed twice before Ramirez connected.
Ramirez detailed his perspective on how things unfolded after the game.
“I think he’s been disrespecting the game for a while,” Ramirez said through a team translator. “I even had the chance to tell him [earlier] during the game, ‘Don’t do this stuff. That’s disrespectful. Don’t start tagging people like that because, in reality, we’re here trying to find ways to provide for our families.’ And when he does things he does on the bases, he can get somebody out of the game.”
Ramirez said that if Anderson wants to fight, he has to defend himself.
“I was telling him to stop doing that, and then as soon as that play happened, he tagged me again really hard, more than needed,” Ramirez said. “And then he had the reaction, he said I want to fight, and if you want to fight, I have to defend myself.”
Anderson was unavailable to the media after the game.
Guardians manager Terry Francona explains his view of the altercation with the White Sox
From there, it was chaos. Both benches emptied. Several players and coaches had to be held back. Two separate times, the fracas seemed to be dying down, only to be reignited with more shoving and yelling somewhere else in the huge crowd. The third and final incident involved Guardians third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, one of the most mild-mannered coaches around.
In the end, Ramirez, Anderson, Emmanuel Clase, Francona, White Sox manager Pedro Grifol and Sarbaugh were all ejected. Francona said after the game he wasn’t ejected on the field, but that he did trade words with Grifol.
As Francona said, “Things got away from everybody.”
“I think [Grifol] was more yelling at me, and then I kind of yelled back,” Francona said. “I think I got ejected because of what I did [Friday] night. … When you’re my age, you’re just trying to help. I didn’t appreciate the fact that I thought Anderson, once he had 11-12 guys between them, that’s when he started [yelling]. And then I said something to him.”
“That’s probably what their manager was yelling around. But it’s hard to let somebody speak to you like that and not say anything. That’s emotions.”
Jose Ramirez lands right cross on Tim Anderson during Guardians-White Sox fight
It’s undeniable to say that Ramirez got the best of the altercation with a mean right hook that appeared to have Anderson struggling to walk under his own power during the scuffle afterward. The punch had Twitter buzzing.
As Guardians radio broadcasting legend Tom Hamilton called it live, “Down goes Anderson! Down goes Anderson!” A few Guardians players were echoing that call with “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier” in the clubhouse after the game.
“It’s not funny, but when I came in, I listened to Hammy — hard not to chuckle,” Francona said. “But, again, it’s not funny. But … boys will be boys.”
Just after Ramirez’s right hook landed, and during the ensuing altercation, the Progressive Field crowd chanted “Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose” and gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
It was Ramirez’s first ever ejection from a game.
“I mean, even when I get frustrated with umpires, I try to take that down with myself in the dugout,” Ramirez said. “I don’t want to disrespect the game. I just want to play the game.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.