A little bunt single turned this WBC matchup into a World Boxing Classic.
Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves and several players threw nasty punches when a fierce, full-scale brawl broke out in the ninth inning Saturday of Canada’s 10-3 romp over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, a melee that also involved fans and set off skirmishes in the seats.
Multiple fights erupted after Canada’s Rene Tosoni was hit in the back by a pitch from Arnold Leon with the score 9-3 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It quickly turned into a wild scene.
The angry Red Sox reliever was tossed to the ground by Philadelphia minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies during the height of the fury, then rushed to rejoin the fray.
Canadian first base coach Larry Walker said he held back Mexico star Adrian Gonzalez during the altercation. The solidly built Walker also tried to restrain Aceves.
‘‘I had a hold of him and I thought I saw Satan in his eyes,’’ Walker said.
There had already been several borderline plays on the bases when things got out of hand. A bunt hit by Chris Robinson heightened the tension — a WBC tiebreaker relies heavily on runs and the Canadians wanted to score again in the ninth. Third baseman Luis Cruz fielded Robinson’s bunt and seemed to tell Leon to hit the next batter.
Even when the fisticuffs ended, Canadian pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face by a full water bottle thrown from the crowd. Canada shortstop Cale Iorg angrily threw the bottle back into the crowd.
Several police officers came onto the field trying to restore order, and there were a few skirmishes in the decidedly pro-Mexico crowd of 19,581. Seven players were ejected after umpires huddled, trying to sort out the frenzy.
Right as the game resumed, someone in the crowd hurled a baseball that almost hit Walker in the head.
Managers from both teams blamed the tiebreaking rule that uses run differential to determine what team moves on to the next round.
Red Sox manager John Farrell saw the incident back in Florida after an exhibition loss to the Orioles.
‘‘I think we all hope our players don’t get injured when they go off to a tournament, especially in that type of melee,’’ he said.
‘‘It looks like [Aceves] came out of it OK, with the exception of a couple of welts on his head. We had a message from their trainer that he came out of it OK despite taking a couple of left hooks to the head.’’
Wright powers US
David Wright hit a two-out grand slam in the fifth inning as the United States beat Italy, 6-2, in Pool D play in Phoenix. The US team (1-1) meets Canada (1-1) on Sunday with the winner advancing to the second round. Italy (2-1) clinched a second-round berth for the first time when Mexico lost to Canada . . . Yasmany Tomas hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, helping Cuba rout Taiwan, 14-0, in a second-round elimination game in Tokyo . . . Mike Aviles drove in three runs and Puerto Rico eliminated Venezuela, 6-3, in San Juan to advance to the second round . . . Carlos Santana homered and Robinson Cano had three hits as the Dominican Republic beat Spain, 6-3, in San Juan and advanced to the second round.
Rivera confirms it
Mariano Rivera and his family walked into the pavilion behind the third base stands at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, followed by his Yankees teammates. It was the start of the long goodbye for baseball’s greatest closer.
Rivera announced what already had leaked out in prior days: This will be his 19th and final major league season. And the 43-year-old has a clear vision of how he wants his career to end.
Rivera missed most of last year after tearing his right knee while shagging fly balls in May. Rivera said he would have retired after 2012 if he had not gotten hurt.
He then made his first appearance since April 30, throwing 15 pitches during a 1-2-3 fifth inning of a 2-1 loss to Atlanta. Looking like his overpowering self, Rivera retired Dan Uggla on a pop to second, then threw called third strikes past Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.
Earlier in the game, 38-year-old Derek Jeter singled sharply to left field on the first pitch he saw since breaking an ankle last fall in the AL Championship Series.
DL for Santana?
It appears more and more likely that Johan Santana will be headed to the disabled list after the Mets again pushed back the schedule for their ace to make his spring training debut. Santana didn’t pitch in the major leagues in 2011 following shoulder surgery, then went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last year. The 33-year-old lefthander didn’t pitch after Aug. 17 because of lower back inflammation and did not throw much during the offseason . . . Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit consecutive home runs as the Nationals defeated a Marlins split squad, 8-7, in Viera, Fla. Harper connected in the fifth inning for his second homer this spring. He is batting .462 in exhibition play . . . Lefthander Matt Harrison could be headed back to Texas for a medical exam after he was scratched from his start in Peoria, Ariz. Harrison, slated to be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter, has inflammation in the second toe on his left foot, but will try to throw a bullpen session Sunday.