Blanco, Wigginton get into verbal spat
Texas infielder has issue with how third baseman blocked bag
BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter called it "textbook" defense. But apparently Texas' Andres Blanco wasn't a fan of that book, as the Rangers infielder engaged in a verbal spat with Baltimore third baseman Ty Wigginton following a collision play at third base in the sixth inning of Thursday's 4-0 O's win.
The incident started when Blanco doubled over the head of right fielder Nick Markakis and tried to stretch it to a triple.
"It's just part of the game, trying to get the extra base," said Blanco, whose main concern in the fiery exchange was getting hurt as a result of the hard-nosed encounter.
The Orioles had other plans, as Markakis made a pinpoint relay throw to second baseman Brian Roberts, who pivoted and threw to a waiting Wigginton at third. Blanco took a hard slide head-first slide into the bag, pushing Wigginton, who was down on one knee, over after the out was made. The O's infielder held up the ball, and home-plate umpire Tim McClelland called him out. Blanco took exception, not to the call, but to Wigginton dropping his knee and blocking the bag, and started yelling at the infielder, who shouted right back.
"I just said, 'You're out,'" Wigginton said of the war of words, which included him pointing to the visitors' dugout to tell the Blanco to go back to the bench.
"I guess he wasn't happy with the play."
Showalter had no problem with Wigginton dropping his knee to block the bag and later said that the play was executed exactly as it should be.
"I'd be more upset if he didn't [block the bag]," Showalter said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. I expect it from Wiggy. That's as clean a play as you can make. Defining it some other way, I'd take exception to that."
It was enough to get under Blanco's skin as he continued to engage in a heated debate with Wigginton while standing several yards off the third-base bag. Rangers third-base coach Dave Anderson got in front of Blanco to restrain him and coax him back to the dugout, while third-base umpire Manny Gonzalez walked Wigginton toward shortstop to help diffuse the situation.
No ejections were issued, although several members of the O's bullpen came spilling onto the field in the event of an on-field incident.
The play was especially critical given that the Orioles and Rangers were deadlocked in a scoreless game, and Blanco would have given Texas a baserunner with no outs.
"A good team like that and the top of their order coming up, there's a pretty good chance that guy is going to score," said Wigginton, who doubled in his next at-bat. "It could change the whole game."
Wigginton was suspended three games earlier this season for getting in the face of first-base umpire Gary Darling, who ruled that Wigginton had missed a tag, allowing Minnesota's J.J. Hardy to get back to first safely and causing Wigginton to erupt. Darling acknowledged after the game that he missed the call and Wigginton agreed to drop his appeal hearing in exchange for a reduced two-game suspension.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.