Benches cleared out and the stands emptied during Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros in a Major League Baseball (MLB) match marred by an ugly all-in brawl.
Tempers flared between the American League (AL) West rivals after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers.
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The fireworks erupted after Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch — for the third time in the three-game series — this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh.
Laureano wasn't happy with the Astros after he got hit by a pitch pic.twitter.com/ysiXICstKb— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 9, 2020
And just like that we’re playing BASEBRAWL!!! https://t.co/nYGpZzngHw— Carl Votti (@CarlVotti) August 10, 2020
Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting towards him.
The A's outfielder didn't quite make it to Cintron, however, with Astros catcher Dustin Garneau stopping him dead in his tracks with a bruising tackle that wouldn't have looked out of place in rugby league.
Laureano lay pinned to the ground as players sprinted from all directions to get involved in the chaotic melee.
Garneau quickly became an internet sensation as footage of his incredible tackle on Laureano went viral.
When Dustin Garneau crosses the street, the cars look both ways. https://t.co/NQSVlUFHak— Dustin Garneau Fan Club Member (@DelRaz09) August 9, 2020
In Spain the bulls run from Dustin Garneau— Frequent Flyer (@UtahDroneGuy) August 9, 2020
That tackle and hold by Garneau was just excellent.— Ava (@heyxava) August 9, 2020
Garneau must have played linebacker at some point... good tackle.— MrEd Xtechur (@SlipperySam11) August 9, 2020
An NFL team needs to sign Garneau cause the man can tackle 😂— Dayton Milner (@DaytonMilner2) August 9, 2020
Garneau gets a tackle added to his stats. You don't see that very often in baseball. 😉— PBJ Heather (@PBJ_HRD) August 9, 2020
Garneau about to sign a 3 year deal with the Texans after that tackle— Phil (@PH1Losophical) August 9, 2020
there was no brawl, garneau straight up embarrassed the kid pic.twitter.com/hfJq2aRc9F— Braixen (@SurfingTheAnime) August 9, 2020
Incident adds to bad blood between teams
The crazy incident saw COVID-19 social-distancing protocols go out the window as players from both sides jumped out of their seats to rush onto the field.
Laureano and A's catcher Austin Allen were ejected in the incident, with Allen tossed after the benches cleared.
The initial warring parties Laureano and Cintron were not made available for comment after the game but Oakland's manager Bob Melvin put the blame on Cintron without referring to him by name.
"Ramon doesn’t go over there unless something completely offensive came out of the dugout," Melvin said.
"I think the league will know who that is. That person should get suspended. Hopefully, that's the case." Melvin said that having no spectators in the stadium should make it easier for MLB to determine who said what when it reviews the tape and hears what field microphones picked up.
The flaring of tempers is not a surprise. Oakland is not only a division rival of Houston but also a focal point in the Astros' cheating scandal.
A's pitcher Fiers last offseason blew the whistle on the Astros' rampant sign-stealing during the team's 2017 World Series championship season.
Fiers was a member of the Astros' pitching staff that year.
On top of that, the A's were leading big at the time of the fight and were poised to complete a three-game sweep of the 2019 AL champs.
They went on to win 7-2 and extend their AL West lead over Houston to 5 1/2 games.