Benches empty in Anaheim, but no one seems sure exactly why
Coming off of last season’s amazing run to the World Series, and sitting unbeaten through this season’s first week, the Kansas City Royals sure are a confident bunch.
No team is feeling the brunt of their bravado more than the Angels. After sweeping Los Angeles in the American League Divisional Series last season, Kansas City on Sunday completed a three-game sweep in Anaheim in the Angels’ first home series of the season.
But could the reigning AL champs, or more specifically their budding ace Yordano Ventura, be suffering from a bit of an inflated ego?
On Sunday afternoon, Ventura, who measures in at 6-feet tall, 180 pounds apparently wanted a piece of 6-foot-2, 235-pound Mike Trout.
As you can see in the video above, the 23-year-old Ventura walked off the mound and stared down Trout after the reigning AL MVP singled up the middle in the bottom of the sixth. Seemingly unaware of why Ventura would be barking at him, Trout would score on an Albert Pujols hit and error by Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
And as Trout slid home safely, more words were exchanged ... only this time Pujols and some Angels in the dugout joined in the discussion.
"I was just playing my game," Trout told reporters after the Angels' 9-2 loss. "I just got a base hit, I got to first base and he was staring at me. I didn't think I did anything wrong — and then he got in my face. I'm not trying to get in any fights or anything, and I'm just trying to play baseball."
"When I slid into home plate, I told [teammate Matt] Joyce, 'Let's go,' and [Ventura] got into my face," Trout said, according to MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan.
"He pitches with a lot of emotion. He's a real intense competitor, and he got fired up there," Royals manager Ned Yost said of his pitcher after the game.
"It's just baseball," Ventura told MLB.com through interpreter Christian Colon after his win. "It's called competing.
"He kind of looked at me and said, 'What?' and that kind of made me mad."
It looks pretty clear in the video that Ventura really didn’t want any part of either LA slugger, and judging by Royals catcher Salvador Perez’s reaction, he wasn’t too confident in Ventura’s chances if things really did escalate.
"It was just a couple of looks — he looks, the other guy looks," Perez told MLB.com. "That happens. ... I just told (Ventura) to get back to baseball. I don't want him to fight. I told him, 'Don't get crazy.'"
What’s more, Ventura would leave the game one batter later with ... a calf cramp, according to FOX Sports Kansas City’s Joel Goldberg.
That means through two starts, Ventura has left two games early because of cramps.
But after Sunday’s 9-2 Royals victory, he’s also 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings.
— The Associated Press and MLB.com contributed to this report.