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Athletics, Astros empty dugouts for mid-game brawl

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Players spilled out of both dugouts before a large on-field melee during the seventh inning of a game between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros in Oakland.

Astros rookie pitcher Humberto Castellanos hit Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the back with a curveball to spark the scuffle Sunday at Oakland Coliseum. The Athletics went on to claim a 7-2 victory and have won nine consecutive games.

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Tensions were already high, as each team exchanged words from their dugouts throughout Sunday's skirmish. Castellanos forced a Marcus Semien groundout in his first exchange in the bottom of the seventh inning. Laureano then stepped in to face the rookie.

Castellanos worked a 3-2 count against Laureano. He then hit the Athletics center fielder with his 77.5-mph offspeed toss. Laureano dropped his bat before he pointed at and shared some words with Castellanos as he made his way toward first base.

Astros catcher Martin Maldonado and the home plate umpire then stepped between Castellanos and Laureano, but it didn't stop the tension for rising.

Laureano then ran toward the Astros hitting coach Alex Clinton in front of the Astros dugout, but was tackled before he could reach the coach. Astros players then surrounded Laureano as players from both teams swarmed into the area for a shoving match, with several players falling to the ground.

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"Ramon doesn't go over there unless something completely offensive came out of the dugout," Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "I think the league will know who that is.

"That person should get suspended. Hopefully, that's the case. Nowadays, without fans in the stands and mics everywhere, my guess is they know who it was."

Laureano and Athletics catcher Dustin Garneau were ejected after players were separated and returned to their respective dugouts.

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"We're all men out there with high pride and anxiety and everything else," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "These things happen when you're on a ball field. Everybody wants you to just control your temper, which you should, but sometimes things flare out of control."

Baker was ejected the inning prior to the brawl after he argued ball and strike calls with the umpire.

The players involved in the scuffle could face more severe penalties than previous years due to the shortened nature of the 60-game 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Players are "strictly prohibited" from fighting and instigating fights. The MLB operations manual says players who are involved in such incidents will face discipline, which will not be reduced or prorated based on the length of the season, which means any length of suspension would be for a larger percentage of the season compared to one handed down during a typical 162-game season.

Many of the players involved in the brawl did not have their masks pulled over their noses and mouths.

Jesus Luzardo earned his first MLB victory Sunday after he allowed five hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Robbie Grossman, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson each homered for the Athletics.

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Laureano went 0 for 2 and Castellanos allowed one hit and one run in one inning of work.

The Astros (6-9) host the San Francisco Giants at 9:10 p.m. EDT Monday in Houston. The Athletics (12-4) face the Los Angeles Angels at 9:40 p.m. EDT Monday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

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