Benches clear after Astros drill García with pitch

Benches clear after Astros drill García with pitch

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tempers flared and both dugouts emptied in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday, moments after Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis García was hit in the left arm by a first-pitch fastball from Houston Astros reliever Bryan Abreu.

The hit by pitch, on a 99-mph fastball, came two innings after García hit a go-ahead three-run homer off Justin Verlander and celebrated emphatically, walking halfway up the first-base line and slamming his bat onto the ground before rounding the bases.

Immediately after getting plunked, García turned directly at Astros catcher Martín Maldonado, seemingly believing it was Maldonado who called for Abreu to throw at him. García tried to go after Maldonado again after both dugouts and bullpens had emptied. Yordan Alvarez, his countryman, was seen trying to calm García.

Umpires ejected Abreu and García for their involvement in the incident. They also ejected Astros manager Dusty Baker, who threw his cap against the dugout railing while arguing with umpires for throwing out Abreu. The ejection prompted Baker to go to his closer, Ryan Pressly, an inning early.

The Rangers’ lead was short-lived as the Astros answered back half an inning later with a big homer of their own. Jose Altuve went deep with a winning, three-run shot and the Astros stunned the Rangers 5-4 to take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven affair.

Bad blood between these two teams goes back to late July, when Marcus Semien got in Maldonado’s face after reaching home plate on a García grand slam at Minute Maid Park, prompting both benches to clear then too. Semien had previously taken issue with getting plunked by Framber Valdez.

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Alden Gonzalez

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