The baseball dove inside the batter’s box and caromed off Alcides Escobar’s leg, and players from the Royals and Toronto Blue Jays benches darted onto the field. They met near the pitcher’s mound, culminating in a 50-man, all-out shoving match.
On a sunny August afternoon in Toronto, a baseball rivalry was born.
Two months later, it advances on to a national stage.
For the first time since that skirmish, the Blue Jays and Royals will meet Friday at Kauffman Stadium — this time in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Both teams closed out their respective American League Division Series on Wednesday — the Royals with a 7-2 win against Houston and Toronto with a 6-3 win against Texas that included some fireworks of its own.
Might the remains of that August clash spill into the ALCS?
Well, it certainly wasn’t quickly forgotten after the game. Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson demonstratively showed his frustration to getting hit by a pitch in the first inning and narrowly escaping two more beanballs later in the game — theatrics that weren’t well-received from the Royals clubhouse.
“He’s a little baby,” Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez said of Donaldson after the game. “He was crying like a baby.”
The Blue Jays protected their All-Star third baseman when reliever Aaron Sanchez drilled Escobar. Sanchez was subsequently ejected as the benches cleared.
The Blue Jays took three of four from the Royals in the weekend series — and they won the season series 4-3.
The series score is wiped clean Friday.
The tensions loom.