Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, right rear, escorts Oakland's Josh Donaldson, right front, away after Minnesota's Glen Perkins struck out Donaldson and words were exchanged during the tenth inning on Wednesday.
Tom Olmscheid/Tom Olmscheid/AP
MINNEAPOLIS — By bench-clearing standards, what took place Wednesday between Minnesota and Oakland was relatively tame. But by the Twins’ standards, the scuffle along the first base line during Minnesota’s 7-4 loss was a bit out of character.
It all started when Twins closer Glen Perkins struck out Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson for the final out of the 10th inning. One pitch earlier, Donaldson hit a long foul ball down the left field line that just missed giving the A’s the lead. So when Perkins struck out Donaldson, he flipped his bat in frustration.
While Perkins downplayed the situation a bit, Donaldson said it was something Perkins said that set him off.
"He struck me out, pretty good pitch. I flipped my bat away and I hear him barking at me," Donaldson said. "I look up and he says something, he gives me a little finger or something, not the finger, but a little point."
Perkins started walking toward the Twins’ dugout along the first base side as Donaldson walked toward him, barking back at Minnesota’s closer. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and third baseman Trevor Plouffe stepped in front of Donaldson before things could escalate.
Still, both benches cleared and several pitchers began to make their way from the bullpen — but didn’t get far before the tension dissipated.
"I talked to him, and then as I was walking away he started yelling," Perkins said. "The benches cleared and I turned around and was going to walk back in and Joe (Mauer) grabbed me and said, ‘Let’s go.’ So I stopped. I don’t think it was too rowdy."
When asked what irritated him during that at-bat — whether it was Donaldson’s reaction to the long fly ball or his bat flip after the strikeout — Perkins wouldn’t say.
"It was no disrespect to him. Things like that happen," said Perkins, an All-Star for Minnesota last season. "I think we probably both could have handled situations differently. I’ll leave it at that."
The bench-clearing incident came at a point in the game where emotions ran high in both dugouts. Minnesota tied the game in the ninth inning with a two-run, two-out rally after trailing 4-2. Perkins issued a two-out walk to Jed Lowrie before the Donaldson at-bat, and the long fly ball to left field nearly gave Oakland the lead right back.
The Twins eventually gave up three runs in the top of the 11th and couldn’t score a run in the bottom half of the inning despite loading the bases. But Perkins believes the situation that took place one inning earlier was a good thing for his team as it showed a bit of fight.
"I think that’s good. I think we need to fight. We fought back in the game," Perkins said. "We had a chance to win it in the ninth and we didn’t. I got out of the two-out walk. Part of that’s trying to fire up the team, trying to get guys going. We need that around here. We need some energy. We need some fight. I think the guys appreciated it."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he didn’t see what instigated the benches clearing, but he didn’t sound overly upset about what took place in the 10th inning.
"After he got him out, I turned to go to my lineup card. The next thing you know, everybody was running out on the field," Gardenhire said. "I didn’t really have a good feel for it. I know a warning was put out. I asked if I could challenge that."