Three players hit by pitches; NY's Severino, Girardi, Rothschild and Thomson ejected
By Alykhan Ravjiani and John Lott
TORONTO -- A trio of hit-by-pitches led to the Blue Jays and Yankees clearing their benches twice early in Monday's 7-5 Yankees win at Rogers Centre.
The friction started when Josh Donaldson was hit by a 97-mph fastball from Yankees starter Luis Severino with one out in the first inning. While Toronto's third baseman took his base, the reigning American League MVP Award winner was clearly not happy.
Home-plate umpire Todd Tichenor warned both teams after Toronto starter J.A. Happ returned the favor by hitting Chase Headley to lead off the second, causing both benches and bullpens to clear. The teams got heated and exchanged words, with Yankees manager Joe Girardi getting ejected.
"I was mad because Happ hit him on purpose and he had one shot," Girardi said. "You throw it behind the guy and you miss, I mean, he's got to be tossed. That's terrible, it's terrible."
Like his manager, Headley admitted he was a little surprised that Happ stayed in the game.
"I thought he was throwing at me," Headley said. "Obviously after the first one went behind me, generally you don't get thrown at twice in a row. I understand they were upset that a couple of their guys got hit and apparently they wanted to retaliate for that, which, that's their prerogative. Usually when you throw one behind someone then hit them with the next pitch, you're out of the game."
The action didn't stop there, as Severino opened the bottom of the second with an inside fastball which narrowly missed Justin Smoak, before hitting the Blue Jays' first baseman on the leg on the next pitch. Tichenor immediately ejected Severino, with both teams and bullpens again storming out of the dugouts in a much more heated altercation, with Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar rushing out onto the field first.
"I just saw him run at me and I've got to defend myself," Severino said. "I saw Smoak doing nothing over there and I saw Pillar run at me and I had to defend myself. I saw him running at me that's why I threw my glove."
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, who engaged in a tussle with Yankees counterpart Gary Sanchez during the second skirmish, said the melee erupted in response to "the unwritten rules of baseball."
In this case, he said, the Blue Jays were especially annoyed that Severino hit Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP winner.
"You hit one of our guys, our MVP guy," Martin said. "After that, sometimes the ball slips out of the pitcher's hand and for some reason it's even. That's kind of how the game goes."
Martin's succinct summation: "We protected our guy. They protected their guy back, and we didn't like it."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he thought the ruckus may have boiled over as a result of the way opponents -- not just the Yankees -- have pitched the Blue Jays throughout the season.
"Some teams have been taking some pot shots at us all year long," Gibbons said. "Maybe some guys just got tired of it."
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bench coach Rob Thomson were also ejected after the second benches-clearing incident, with frustration that seemed to have stemmed from earlier in the series.
"I think [third-base umpire] Phil [Cuzzi] threw him out for who knows?" Girardi said. "We were yelling at him the other day because there were missed strikes. That's frustrating in this kind of game. I don't really know. You'd have to ask Larry what he said."
The second fracas also led to what could be a key injury for the Blue Jays, as reliever Joaquin Benoit headed straight to the clubhouse after injuring his calf. While Toronto's staff had no immediate update on Benoit's condition, his loss could prove costly in a tightly contested AL Wild Card race.
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. John Lott is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.