A bench-clearing incident involving the Texas outfielder added some late-inning fireworks to the Rangers' 8-4 win over the Royals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Cruz led off the top of the ninth with the Rangers boasting a two-run lead and was instantly hit in the back by a pitch from Kansas City reliever Louis Coleman. Cruz took offense and took a few steps toward the mound before Royals catcher Brayan Pena intervened. Cruz and Pena then exchanged some words and some shoves, leading to the clearing of the benches.
"It's part of the game. We were trying to go inside," Pena said afterward. "Cruz is a very strong guy, and I tried to go in and not let him extend his arms. He's one of my good friends, so I hope that he doesn't think that I did that on purpose. It's part of the game. After that we continued to play the baseball game."
After everything settled down, Texas designated hitter Michael Young sent the next pitch out for a two-run homer, putting the Rangers up, 8-4, and chasing Coleman from the game.
In his previous at-bat, in the sixth inning, Cruz homered to left field for the second of back-to-back homers off Royals starter Bruce Chen. So the plunking could have stemmed from Cruz's admiration of his mammoth blast.
"I know they hit me on purpose," Cruz said. "They can say what they want to say, but if you play this game long enough, you know. I wasn't going to do anything, I just was telling the pitcher that was [garbage]. ... I played with Brayan in the Dominican, and I know him. He said it wasn't on purpose -- I was mad because he was lying to me.
"I watched the ball a little bit. I know everybody does it."
According to the Royals, the pitch simply missed.
"I faced him last year a lot, and I'm always going away from him," Coleman said. "Just tried to come in and hit the inner half so I can go right back outside. One of those things."
"You saw the pitch before -- I mean, he hit it nine miles," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "So, yeah, I think Louis was trying to pitch in on him to keep him from extending his hands."
There are three games remaining in the series between the two teams, but at least one Ranger said there shouldn't be any more trouble resulting from the incident.
"It's over," outfielder David Murphy said. "They made their statement, and we reacted the way we wanted to react; the next guy hit a home run. In my mind, it's over."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.