Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos were both ejected from Wednesday night’s game at Dodger Stadium after a collision at the plate caused both benches to clear.
Kemp was attempting to score from second base on Enrique Hernandez‘s two-out single to right field in the bottom of the third inning. But with the throw reaching the plate well ahead of him, Kemp lowered his shoulder and barreled into Chirinos.
After Kemp was tagged out to end the inning, Chirinos got up and shoved him. Kemp returned the shove, and both benches and bullpens emptied and formed a scrum at the plate. Kemp was restrained by Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
“I didn’t know he was going to come after me like that,” Chirinos said. “I got mad when Kemp got up, and he leaned into me and put his shoulder into me. That’s when I rushed him. Everyone knows the rule, they preach it to us in spring training. It was emotional.”
Kemp downplayed the incident afterward, saying it was just “two guys shoving each other, and it’s over.”
The rules outlaw runners from plowing into catchers, and catchers have to give runners a lane to the plate in most cases. In this play, the throw home took Chirinos directly into Kemp’s path to the plate.
“I think it’s unclear to everybody,” Kemp said of the newer rule. “He was blocking the plate. I don’t know the rule. I don’t even know how it works. I didn’t have a clear path to slide. All I could really think about when I saw him blocking the plate was Washington when I slid into home and messed up my ankle. I didn’t want to do that again.”
Crew chief Bill Welke said Kemp didn’t violate the rule, and both players were ejected for their tussle after the play.
“The runner is protected by the blocking of the plate if he slides,” Welke told a pool reporter after the game. “Kemp chose not to slide, therefore he lost his protection.”
Hernandez called the third-inning brouhaha “a little bit of old-school baseball.”
“I’m one of the older guys now, and when I first came up that’s how they slid into home, but the game has transitioned,” Hamels said. “Sportsmanship has changed. I can’t give you a definite answer if Kemp broke the rule or not. It’s a tough way to lose.”
The Dodgers won 3-2 in 11 innings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.