Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner had to be separated by teammates in the Dodgers’ dugout Thursday when the two became engaged in a heated argument between the top and bottom of the seventh inning.
The argument stemmed from a play in the bottom of the sixth inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
With one out and the Brewers leading 6-5, Grandal was on first base and Joc Pederson was on third when Turner hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field. Both runners tagged up and Pederson scored as the throw went into second base.
However, Grandal was tagged out quickly and easily by Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett. The Brewers challenged home plate umpire Ryan Blakney’s call that Pederson scored before Gennett tagged Grandal. The call was ultimately upheld.
But Grandal’s bone-headed decision nearly cost the Dodgers a run (and Turner an RBI). Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick got between Grandal and Turner, who eventually headed down a tunnel leading to the Dodgers’ clubhouse. Grandal stayed in the dugout and was immediately approached by manager Dave Roberts for a brief chat on the bench.
“As the ball goes into second base, you’ve got to stop to just ensure the run scores,” Roberts said. “It’s just one of those things: the ball tells you what to do.”
Roberts said that was his message to Grandal on the bench.
Turner and Grandal both said their dispute is over.
“It’s part of the game,” Turner said. “It’s a long season. We’re all competitors. Sometimes you have differences of opinion.”
Grandal called his gaffe a “brain fart.” In retrospect, Grandal said, he would probably “hold off and come back” to first base after tagging up.
That was the crux of Turner’s gripe.
“With one out and the fly ball’s the second out, what you don’t want to do is probably run into an out there,” Turner said. “The run scored, so it doesn’t matter.”
So what is the takeaway from this incident?
Turner pointed out that dugout blowups have been rare for this team in recent years. Matt Kemp had to be separated from Yasiel Puig late in the 2014 season, before they were separated by an Andrew Friedman trade, but last season passed by without incident.
“I think we need to play with some fire,” Grandal said. “If we fight, we fight.”
There might be something to that. Dodgers outfielder Trayce Thompson, recalling that he once blew up at a teammate in the middle of a game, said “the only people I fight with are people I love.”
Even though Grandal’s mistake didn’t cost the Dodgers a run Thursday, Turner cared enough not to let the moment pass quietly. Both players were accountable enough for their actions to take questions from reporters after the game, which is often a rare quality in this clubhouse. The Dodgers played with fire and lost Thursday, but maybe playing with fire is a good sign.
“Things haven’t been going great for us all year,” Turner said. “The bottom line is, we want to win games.”