CLEVELAND – Tim Anderson dropped his glove. José Ramírez dropped Chicago's shortstop.
Ramírez landed a looping right hook to Anderson's jaw when the infield stars squared off and started throwing punches at second base Saturday night in the sixth inning, triggering a wild brawl before the White Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 7-4.
Anderson and Ramírez are likely facing suspensions for their roles in a lengthy bench-clearing melee that led to six ejections and heightened bad blood between the AL Central rivals.
“From the second I set foot in the clubhouse, I could tell these teams don't like each other,” said Cleveland starter Noah Syndergaard, who was acquired in a trade last week. “And I don't think it's going to be resolved anytime soon."
After Anderson and Ramírez squared off, both benches and bullpens poured onto the field, leading to some chaotic moments in one of the nastiest fights in the majors in recent years.
"It’s not funny, but boys will be boys,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona, who was ejected following the fracas, which began after Ramírez slid headfirst into second base between Anderson's legs.
Anderson kept his tag on Ramírez's back as he stood over and straddled him. Ramírez seemed irritated and, after getting up, he pointed his finger in Anderson’s face and yelled. The two then squared off like boxers in a ring.
Anderson took off his glove and threw the first punch and then another that missed before Ramírez countered with his haymaker to the Chicago star’s jaw, dazing him and knocking him on his rear end on the infield dirt.
"I felt I was able to land one,” Ramírez said through a translator.
“He’s been disrespecting the game for a while," Ramírez added. "When he does something like that on the bases, he can get somebody out of the game. So I was telling him to stop doing that. After he tapped me really hard, more than needed, he said he wanted to fight and I had to defend myself.”
Anderson was not available for comment afterward.
Francona wasn't exactly sure what prompted the Anderson-Ramírez bout, but said that before the brawl, Anderson had been told by one of the umpires to stop jawing at Guardians rookie Gabriel Arias.
On Friday night, Anderson pushed Guardians rookie Brayan Rocchio off the bag at second following a slide, leading to a call that was controversially reversed by the umpires.
Francona, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and closer Emmanuel Clase were tossed along with Chicago manager Pedro Grifol. There were multiple flare-ups on the infield and in foul territory, and it took 15 minutes before order was restored.
After he was knocked down, Anderson had to be forcibly taken into the dugout by members of the coaching staff before he returned to the field several minutes later. Chicago teammate Andrew Vaughn then wrapped his arms around Anderson and physically carried him down the dugout steps.
Sarbaugh and Clase were the primary figures in subsequent escalations during the delay.
Tempers temporarily calmed before Francona and Grifol had words, leading to pushing and shoving by players and coaches on both teams as the crowd roared.
“I think he was more yelling at me and I yelled back,” Francona said.
Grifol didn't want to comment directly about the ugly incident.
“There are a lot of people upset,” he said. “Thank God I haven't heard of any news out of the trainer's room. I'm not going to talk about it. I'm going to let MLB figure this out. They've got some work to do.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.