John Lackey sprinted toward home plate, absolutely screaming at home plate umpire Jordan Baker.
Willson Contreras did a complete circle around Baker, needing both Joe Maddon and Javy Baez to hold him back.
Those will become the lasting images from an absolutely wild occurrence at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon.
Lackey was on the mound in the fifth inning against Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, locked in a 1-1 ballgame with runners on first and second and two outs.
On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Lackey floated a breaking ball right down the middle of the plate. Martinez put his head down and started walking toward the dugout, conceding to the strikeout.
But Baker did not call the pitch a strike. Instead, it was Ball 3 and Martinez had new life.
Lackey wasted no time laying into Baker, screaming and pointing at Martinez, who was several steps toward the first-base dugout.
"He almost walked to the grass," Lackey said. "He knew he was out."
For reference, here is where the pitch was located:
Pitch No. 5 is the pitch, called a ball by the umpire, that caused John Lackey to absolutely lose his mind. pic.twitter.com/8VQwLClCf6— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) September 15, 2017
Contreras and Maddon both said the second-year catcher got crossed up on the pitch and wasn't expecting a breaking ball, but Lackey said there was no cross-up.
Lackey continued screaming at Baker and Maddon came from out of the dugout in an effort to calm things down.
"He missed the pitch," Lackey said. "It's a big spot in a huge game and he missed the pitch."
Lackey remained in the game, but on his next pitch, Martinez singled to right-center, plating Kolten Wong with the go-ahead run. Lackey sprinted in to backup the play at home, yelling at Baker the whole way.
When the play was over and time called, Contreras also apparently said something to Baker and was subsequently tossed, resulting in this immediate reaction:
Whose ejection was better? Lackey's or Willson Contreras's? pic.twitter.com/bQlDghjYlb— SI MLB (@si_mlb) September 15, 2017
Maddon was already on his way out of the dugout and tried to hold Contreras back before Baez intervened and kept his teammate back.
Contreras' mask bounced and hit Baker in the foot, but the Cubs catcher apologized afterwards and said he clearly wasn't trying to hit or hurt anybody, just was frustrated in the moment and threw his mask on the ground, never intending for it to hit the umpire.
The end result was both pitcher and catcher ejected in the fifth inning of a crucial game in the pennant race. But the Cubs rebounded with seven runs in the sixth inning, cruising to an 8-2 victory. While the Cubs didn't place too much emphasis on the ejections working as a spark, Kris Bryant felt otherwise:
"It was a nice little spark for us and some energy that we all needed," Bryant said. "Yeah, the crowd got into it. I mean, we're always in the game, but anytime you see your teammates or brothers going out like that, getting a little fired up, it's not a terrible thing. I think it ultimately helped us."
Lackey is 38 years old and in his 14th big-league season, but he's always been a fierce competitor and Maddon knows he should never expect any other reaction to an umpire's call.
"Impossible," Maddon said. "I could say I'd like to see that, but why would I even think that? That's the definition of insanity. Why would I think he's gonna change in that particular moment? So God bless him.
"It's who Johnny is. I never want him to change. He's not gonna change, so why even expect that? It happened, we reacted and the rest of the group came together."
Does Lackey regret his actions?
"Not really, no," he said. "It's a pretty big spot right there. It cost me a big-league win; those don't grow on trees."