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A four-game series between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox opened Friday night with a relatively harmless bench clearing in the second inning after pitcher Michael Kopech hit Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo with a 99 mph fastball to the back.
Kopech had a 1-2 count when he nailed Mateo near the left shoulder with a similar pitch to one that plunked Chicago’s Josh Harrison Thursday.
The Orioles cleared their bench first with the White Sox following, but tensions didn’t erupt into anything physical.
“I don’t know what happened there, what were they thinking. But I really don’t think it was intentional,” Mateo said through a translator.
“In the heat of the moment, it’s normal,” he said of the disruption. “People start talking, saying stuff. You feel something. You feel uncomfortable. But it’s normal in the heat of the moment.”
Kopech said the errant pitch wasn’t intentional and that things escalated because “some guys hopped the rail and started talking.”
“They took offense to it, I guess, but I’m trying to rear back and do a little bit more,” he said, via MLB.com. “Fly open, the ball got away from me. Definitely not trying to hit a guy with two strikes and two outs. Especially a guy who’s not doing too much at the plate. Situation kind of escalated, but then it settled back in.”
Both teams were issued warnings, and the Orioles won 4-0. The White Sox dropped their third in a row, and Kopech lost his second straight start.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.