- Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for ESPN.com.
In a first for the 2020 season, both managers in an MLB game were ejected, as the benches cleared in Game 2 of a doubleheader between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.
First, Cubs manager David Ross was tossed after Reds pitcher Tejay Antone threw a fastball over the head of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the top of the fourth inning. Rizzo had homered twice in the Cubs’ 3-0 win in Game 1.
“That’s not a slip,” Ross said after the Reds won Game 2, 6-5. “That’s not a miss. That’s not a grab-some-rosin slip. That was intentional. There is no doubt in my mind about that.”
Antone disagreed, saying the pitch just got away.
“A lot of people are saying it was intentional,” Antone said. “It wasn’t. I was trying to execute a fastball up and in to him.”
Rizzo was less aggressive in his comments than his manager. He called the pitch “scary” but was willing to give Antone the benefit of the doubt.
“I don’t think any pitcher would purposely throw at someone’s head,” Rizzo said. “The intent to go inside I think was there. It was scary. Life kind of flashed before your eyes there.”
At that point, plate umpire Nic Lentz warned both teams, which led to Ross’ ejection. Rizzo eventually walked, and the game continued until the next inning, when Cubs reliever Adbert Alzolay threw a high pitch near Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama.
Reds manager David Bell came out to argue as Rizzo had some words for the Reds dugout.
“At that point, a couple of our players jumped over the railing, and the umpire started throwing everyone out of the game,” Bell said.
Bell, Joey Votto and Jesse Winker were all tossed as players from both teams’ benches, and bullpens gathered near first base. Order was soon restored without any punches being thrown. Antone said things actually began to escalate after the Cubs chirped at him for grunting after striking a couple of players out.
“After the [second] inning, I gave them another grunt,” Antone said. “Just part of the game. They were chirping at me, so I gave them a grunt back and let them know I’m here to strike them out.”
The Cubs tend to make more noise in their dugout than most teams, and without fans in the stands, not much goes unheard. Antone was asked if they “chirp” the most.
“One hundred percent,” he responded. “They chirp the most, for sure. When they’re down, they get quieter.”
Bell was adamant his pitcher wasn’t throwing at Rizzo.
“The other team can take it any way they want,” Bell said. “I know there is absolutely no way we’d throw at anyone, certainly not at anyone’s head.”
Both teams chalked a lot of the back-and-forth up to the fact that so much can be heard from one dugout to the other. It can make for an intense situation between division rivals playing a doubleheader.
“It’s such a unique environment that we’re in, where you can hear everything,” Ross said. “Guys are yelling a lot of different things at a lot of different people.”
The teams play a Sunday series finale in Cincinnati before facing off again at Wrigley Field early next month.
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