By SHANE LANTZ
SEATTLE (AP) — Houston reliever Hector Neris shouted at Julio Rodríguez after striking out the Seattle star during the sixth inning of the Astros’ 8-3 win on Wednesday night, causing both benches to empty.
Neris started yelling at Rodríguez, who was visibility angered by the pitcher’s actions. Neris said after the game that he and Rodríguez are friends, and downplayed the incident.
“It’s part of the game, emotional, like this situation today.” Neris said. But it’s nothing personal. It’s only trying to (wake) up my team.”
Rodríguez was not in the clubhouse postgame and said through team spokesman Adam Gresch he didn’t believe there were any prior issues with Neris. Rodríguez described himself as shocked by Neris’ actions, Gresch said.
Rodríguez and Neris were teammates on the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team and are represented by the same agency.
Seattle third baseman Eugenio Suárez was angered by what Neris said.
“From the beginning I thought it was a joke because before today they have a really good relationship,” said Suárez, who was on deck at the time. “And then he started talking bad words in Spanish. He started doing something that is not good for people who speak Spanish.”
Suárez also questioned why Neris felt the need to go after Rodriguez, instead of just going back to the Astros dugout and celebrating the strikeout there.
“Don’t do that,” Suarez said. “That made me so mad. That’s why I said what I said to him and to them. I don’t take that, and you’ve got to respect people.”
This was the third benches-clearing incident between teams this year. Seattle’s José Caballero and Astros catcher Martín Maldonado squared off at home plate on May 7. The two appeared to be at odds after Caballero called time on the previous pitch. After a swing and miss, Caballero faced off with Maldonado and the two exchanged words as their teammates streamed onto the field.
Another occurred on Aug. 19 when Houston’s Framber Valdez threw a pitch at the feet of Caballero, which hit him in the lower part of his left leg. Caballero hit the ground as he tried to get out of the way. Caballero got up, put his arms out and started walking and talking toward Valdez, who responded. This caused the benches to empty.
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