Benches clear in clash between Angels and Mariners after seemingly intentional hit-by-pitch

By Sports Desk June 26, 2022

Six players and both managers received ejections following a benches-clearing brawl during the second inning of Sunday’s game between the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.

The nasty incident occurred after Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz hit Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker in the hip with a pitch to begin the second inning, after throwing behind rookie star Julio Rodriguez in the opening frame.

After exchanging words with Wantz and briefly moving towards first base, Winker then charged the Angels’ dugout on the third-base side as both teams’ benches and bullpens emptied.

Numerous punches were thrown in the resulting fracas, which delayed the Angels’ eventual 2-1 win for more than 15 minutes. When order was restored, both Winker and Wantz were ejected along with Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez and shortstop J.P. Crawford, Angels pitchers Raisel Iglesias and Ryan Tepera and each team’s manager – the Mariners’ Scott Servais and the Angels’ Phil Nevin.

Tensions between the American League West rivals were already running high after Seattle pitcher Erik Swanson’s errant pitch sailed over Angels star Mike Trout’s head in the Mariners’ 5-3 victory on Saturday night.

Wantz was not originally scheduled to start the game, with the change coming in the hours leading up to start time, prompting those on the Mariners' side to believe he was brought in with the intent to hit batters.

"It’s classless," Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales said afterward. “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, (not) put the tying run on base. It’s just classless to come out and change your pitcher before the game.

"It’s clear. The intention is clear."

Wantz, who was making his first career major league start, denied intentionally throwing at either Rodriguez or Winker.

"I was pretty amped up for my first start and the first one just got away from me," he said. "It was sweaty. I was sweating.

"First day game I’ve pitched (in the majors), and that’s that. Second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside and just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say."

Nevin also downplayed the incident afterward.

"You play eight games in a matter of a week against the same team, things like this happen," he 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."

Winker later directed obscene gestures towards several Angels fans as he left the field, actions he expressed remorse for during his postgame interview.

"The only thing I’m going to apologise for is flipping the fans off. That’s it," he said. "As fans, they’re spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play a game, and they didn’t deserve that. So, I apologise to the fans, especially the women and children."

The two teams are scheduled to face one another 11 more times this season, including a four-game series in Seattle from August 5-7. The Mariners will visit Anaheim twice more in 2022, a three-game series in August and a four-game set in September.

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