Big winners at last week’s trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays fashion themselves as American League contenders. The Blue Jays took perhaps their first step in that direction over the weekend, taking three of four games from the Kansas City Royals despite the AL leader firing shots—figuratively and literally—in their direction.
“He’s a little baby,” Royals starter Edinson Volquez told reporters of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson after Sunday’s 5-2 loss. “He was crying like a baby.”
Volquez‘s words came after a series finale overrun with tension. Pitchers from each side had multiple instances of throwing inside, all culminating when Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez caused benches to clear by plunking Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar in the eighth inning.
Volquez and reliever Ryan Madson had thrown high and tight on Donaldson earlier in the game, with Volquez hitting him in the shoulder during the first.
“He can’t take it,” Volquez told reporters of Donaldson. “I don’t know why. He hit a lot of homers in the first couple of games and he was pimping everything he does. Somebody hits you, you’ve got to take it, because you’re pimping everything you do.”
In the seventh, Madson hit newly acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki before throwing inside to Donaldson. The latter event caused Blue Jays manager John Gibson to get thrown out for complaining that Madson was not thrown out of the game.
“When you give a warning like that and you see balls continually thrown around the head area, and then a ball that hits Tulowitzki in the chest, pretty much, it’s one of those things where you can’t question intent anymore,” Donaldson said, per ESPN. “There has to be repercussions for you giving a warning at the beginning, and I think that’s where he went wrong at it.”
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman appears to be siding with Toronto, tweeting, “Volquez should have been ejected. Can’t blame Donaldson/Jays for being upset.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said he thought umpire Jim Wolf did a “tremendous” job policing the game and understanding which side was throwing at hitters intentionally. That comment caused Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who had tried decreasing tensions at different points during Sunday’s game, to tweet he “lost a lot of respect” for Yost.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura, who has garnered a reputation for his fiery temper, responded to Bautista‘s tweets with a now-deleted warning of his own (via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports):
We’ll meet again later and if you do that with me, you’ll see what I’m about. I don’t care about anybody. I used to respect you, but you’re a nobody. … You got lucky this time, but MLB doesn’t get canceled after this season. Keep running your mouth. … You need to stop giving signs. You’re gonna get it from me for being fresh and you really are a nobody.
Kansas City and Toronto do not meet again during the regular season. However, the odds are increasingly high that a postseason matchup could be in order. The Jays are only one game out of the second Wild Card slot and look like favorites after landing Tulowitzki, David Price and Ben Revere at the deadline. The Wild Card Game winner would move on to play the top overall seed in the American League.
That team at the moment? Kansas City.
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