Bautista hits out at 'cowardly' Rangers following melee


Jose Bautista was scathing of the Texas Rangers after the Toronto Blue Jays star was punched in the face by Rougned Odor in wild scenes on Sunday.

The Rangers won 7-6 but the MLB clash was overshadowed as Odor landed a punch to the face of Bautista with the respective benches cleared twice at Globe Life Park.

Tensions boiled over at the top of the eighth inning, with the Rangers leading 7-6, when Bautista went hard into second base with an apparent takeout slide as Odor attempted to turn a double play.

Odor took exception, shoved Bautista and then punched him in the face. Both benches cleared and more pushing and shoving occurred for several minutes before players were separated.

And Bautista hit out afterwards, also taking aim at the officials having been struck by a Matt Bush fastball.

"I thought it was pretty cowardly of them to wait until my last at-bat to do that, in the whole series," Bautista said after the game, referring to retaliation for his bat flip in last season's eventful American League Division Series.

"Everybody felt they crossed the line. 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."

"I had a hard slide at second base," he continued. "I could have injured him, but I chose not to. I tried to send a message that I didn't appreciate getting hit. [Odor] got me pretty good so I have to give him that. But it takes a little bit of a bigger man, I guess, to knock me down."

Bautista added: "I was frustrated that the warning was put on. I thought that was uncalled for. It's the umpire intervening with the developments of the game. There was no need to do that. If they wanted to set an example and they felt like they threw it at me on purpose, they should have ejected him. That is questions the officials have to answer. The whole situation was mismanaged by the umpires."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons - who was one of eight players and coaches ejected for their roles in three separate incidents - claimed Odor punching Bautista was revenge eight months in the making.

Referring to October when, during the ALDS between the teams, a now-infamous bat flip by Bautista set off a chaotic game five and led the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series, Gibbons said: "It was gutless.

"We've played seven games... The other 29 teams, if they have an issue with you, they come at you right away."