Houston Astros pitcher Bryan Abreu has received a two-game suspension after it was deemed he intentionally hit Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis García with a pitch.
“In assessing the matter, Major League Baseball took into account the dangerous nature of the pitch and its potential impact on player safety,” the MLB said in a statement released Saturday.
The pitcher has also received an undisclosed fine but still has the option to appeal the suspension.
“My plan was to get the ball up and in, then slider down and away,” Abreu told reporters postgame. “I just missed the pitch.”
Both benches cleared as tempers flared in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers on Friday, following the incident.
The game got heated in the eighth inning when Texas’ García was struck on the shoulder by a 98.9 mph fastball from Abreu.
García immediately dropped his bat and turned to confront Houston catcher Martín Maldonado, with the pair exchanging words.
It caused both benches to run onto the field as García and Maldonado had to be separated. Although no punches were thrown, Abreu, García and Houston manager Dusty Baker were all ejected after a delay of almost 12 minutes.
“I just reacted to the ball that came towards me,” García said via a translator. “There was something in that situation that could have hurt me, he could have injured me and it’s just something that I let him know, that shouldn’t happen.
“It was just the heat of the moment. I just reacted to being hit by the pitch. I just reacted towards [Maldonado] as soon as I felt the hit. It was just a thing that happened in that instance.”
García had hit a three-run homer two innings earlier which he celebrated by slowly walking along the first-base line before spiking his bat into the Globe Life Field turf.
The 30-year-old’s jog around the bases was timed at 30.5 seconds as he soaked in the moment.
According to MLB.com, Abreu said that he apologized to García in the midst of the scuffle, saying: “Hey, my bad. It wasn’t on purpose.”
However, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said he understood the reaction from his team.
“The guy hits a three-run homer; the next time up, he gets smoked there,” said Bochy postgame. “I’d be upset, too, if I was Doli.”
Jose Altuve’s three-run homer in the ninth inning gave the Astros a dramatic 5-4 victory in Game 5 of the ALCS. They now hold a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series, having won the last three games, and are one win from a spot in the World Series.
Game 6 of the ALCS will be held at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday.
The winner will face either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series.
The Phillies have the chance to win the series against the Diamondbacks after taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS.