Grant Balfour has a couple of nasty pitches in his repertoire and plenty of filthy words in his vocabulary. The Oakland A's closer could be heard using at least one of those profane words during a heated confrontation with Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
The fiery 35-year-old Australian pitcher was on the hill for the A's in the ninth to close out Game 3 of the ALDS. Martinez led off the frame for the home team and the pair engaged in an unlikely argument during the at-bat. Tensions rose after the Tigers' designated hitter fouled off a 1-2 fastball. He then stared back out at the mound just a bit too intently for Balfour's liking.
"Every time I make a pitch, I walk down the mound. That’s just what I do. He gave me the death stare and had the eyes locked on me," Balfour told Jane Lee of MLB.com after closing out the A's 6-3 win. "He knows what he’s doing. It’s all good. He’s a great competitor and a great hitter. I like a little fire. Obviously he does too."
With V-Mart glaring out at him, Balfour began dropping F-bombs. Martinez sent back a profane salvo of his own as the two engaged in a shouting match. Umpire Gary Darling chased Martinez out toward the mound and did his best to keep the peace as the benches cleared.
WARNING: VIDEO ABOVE CONTAINS SOME HARSH LANGUAGE
Although players from both benches and bullpens charged toward the dispute, the shouting never gave way to an all-out brawl. After the crowd around the mound dispersed, Balfour and Martinez resumed the at-bat without being ejected.
"This is Grant Balfour being Grant Balfour," MLB Network play-by-play-announcer Matt Vasgersian explained for the benefit of viewers less familiar with the closer's antics. "He is, as you mentioned Jim [Kaat], amped up. He talks a lot. It's not personalized but he talks a lot. In fact, he has the demeanor of a guy that wants to fight you. That's not his intention. That's how he gets himself out there ready to throw in the ninth."
Once play resumed, Balfour retired Martinez on a fly ball to right field. Relying on his fastball and slider, Balfour then worked around a two-out walk to save Oakland's win. The A's lead the ALDS 2-1 and the series will resume on Tuesday. It doesn't sound like Martinez will have forgotten about this Game 3 confrontation before Game 4 gets started.
"I mean, (expletive) him. I don't take that (expletive). Not even the greatest closer in the game will tell you stuff like that." Martinez said after the game, via James Schmehl of MLive.com. "I'm not a rookie. To intimidate me with the little (expletive) like that? I don't take that (expletive)."