Through the first 2.5 innings of Game 1 of the National League Division Series, the focus was on baseball, creeping shadows and strong pitching.
Adam Wainwright brushed Hanley Ramirez back with a fastball in the shortstop’s first at-bat of the game, but it didn’t amount to anything. Wainwright then hit Yasiel Puig on his left shoulder with a fastball and emotions boiled over on a day where the temperature at Dodger Stadium was over 90 degrees.
No, it wasn’t Puig, who recently ignited a benches-clearing altercation with San Francisco Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, who took exception to getting beaned. Instead, it was Adrian Gonzalez. As Puig made his way up the first-base line, Gonzalez and Yadier Molina exchanged words that escalated to both benches clearing.
According to Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider, Gonzalez simply wanted to let Molina know the Dodgers wouldn’t stand for the Cardinals treating the Dodgers like punching bags:
Friendly conversation,” Gonzalez said of the confrontation with Molina.. “I was just basically saying you guys keep doing that over and over and we’re not going to put up with that.”
What Gonzalez claims he told Molina seems innocent enough, however the catcher took exception to the manner in which the message was delivered, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:
I don’t know what he said,” Molina said, “but I can read lips. He was screaming at me. I told him if you want to scream at me, then you’ve got to be ready to fight. I don’t let anybody talk to me like that.”
Home plate umpire Jerry Meals got between the two players, who were then pulled aside by their teammates. As cooler heads prevailed, Wainwright and Puig walked together and engaged in what appeared to be a friendly conversation.
Molina continued the conversation with Gonzalez prior to Wainwright throwing the first pitch of the at-bat and nothing else occurred. The altercation sparked the Dodgers as they scored two runs in the inning to take the lead and television cameras caught Gonzalez emphatically celebrating in the dugout when Puig scored the first of their two runs.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers and Gonzalez, who added a two-run home run in the eighth inning, the Cardinals were the last team celebrating Friday night.