No one was more surprised than Josh Donaldson when Manny Machado jumped up, got in his face and started yelling.
Donaldson had just tagged out Machado for the final out of the third inning. The A’s third baseman had the option to throw to first base, of course, but Machado was right there.
When Donaldson reached out for him, Machado tried to jump out of the way, lost his balance and fell. As he was falling, Machado took off his batting helmet and threw it.
“All I know is I just tried to tag the guy,’’ Donaldson said. “I was actually walking over to pick up his helmet for him and he jumps up and starts yelling. I have nothing against the kid. I don’t understand where it came from.’’
After the game the reaction to the play was broken down on party lines. The A’s wondered what the fuss was, and the Orioles seemed to think Donaldson had gone too far with his tag.
“We didn’t agree on the tag,’’ Machado said. “It was the right play. He made the right play, but we just didn’t agree on the tag that he made on me. I just had to get up and confront him.’’
When he did, both benches emptied and the A’s and O’s bullpen crews came running out side by side, always one of the oddities of a basebrawl, such as they are. Things never got past the shouting phase, and it was over quickly.
“You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying,’’ Machado said. “It’s part of the game, and you’ve going to have to continue. I just didn’t agree with the tag. He could have done a better job with it. But you know what? Whatever. It is what it is.’’
Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter took Machado’s side, unapologetically, although he didn’t seem to have the same strength of view that Machado had, opting just to support his player, regardless.
“There’s no woof call going on there’’’ Showalter said. “Manny took exception to something and I’ll take Manny’s side of that every time. He’s out there. I think sometimes you’re off balance and you’ve been through some of the (injury) things he’s been through with his knee, I can see how you might be sensitive to that.
“And I also see how their guy’s trying to make sure he applies the tag, so got two passionate people. I know one for sure. They’re competing out there and those things happen. Manny cares. And until you’ve walked a mile in a man’s shoes, you really don’t know what goes on, but it’s pretty easy call for me what side of the fence I’m going to sit on.’’
As for A’s manager Bob Melvin, he wouldn’t go so far as to say Machado was overreacting.
“It’s a competitive game,’’ Melvin said. “When you try and get away from a tag, he’s going to try and do the best he can to tag you. So it’s not like he walked into him and tagged him hard. He was trying to get away, so you have to tag the guy.’’
Donaldson wound up being pitched inside by Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen then next time he came up. The first knocked him out of the batter’s box. The second hit him. Donaldson didn’t take offense.
“I understand if they want to pitch me in,’’ Donald said. He’d hit his 17th homer and driven in his 50th run early in the game. “It’s fine.’’