Jose Bautista calls Rangers ‘cowardly’ after vicious punch

Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista went on the offensive after being on the receiving end of one of the most brutal punches in baseball history. Bautista was hit with a devastating punch by Texas Rangers infielder Rougned Odor that fueled a brawl in the eighth inning Sunday.

Odor confronted Bautista after the Blue Jays outfielder slid late into second base. When Bautista moved toward Odor, the Rangers infielder unloaded a vicious right hand that staggered Bautista, who reached first base after being hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.

Bautista, who was one of four ejected during the melee, was in no laughing mood after the game.

"I didn’t really think it would cross their mind to do something like that," Bautista told reporters after the Rangers’ 7-6 victory. "But I guess it shows a little bit of their colors."

Bautista then went after the leadership of the Rangers.

"I thought it was pretty cowardly of them to wait until my last at-bat to do that," Bautista said of being hit by a pitch. "It shows at least the apparent lack of leadership they have over there when it comes to playing baseball the right way. Baseball plays are supposed to be taken care of by baseball plays."

Bautista said he was trying to send a message with his hard slide, which was ruled an automatic double play by the umpires because it occurred so late.

"I had a hard slide at second base," Bautista said. "I could have injured [Odor]. I chose not to … tried to send a message that I didn’t appreciate getting hit [with a pitch]."

Bautista was hit in the ribs on the first pitch of his final at-bat in the eighth inning. With Bautista on first, Justin Smoak hit a ground ball to third baseman Adrian Beltre, who threw toward Odor in the hopes of starting a double play. Bautista slid hard into Odor, ingniting the melee.