DETROIT -- Jose Iglesias' bases-clearing double in the seventh inning put the Tigers ahead for good in a wild back-and-forth game marred by an equally wild series of bench-clearing incidents, as Detroit avoided a Yankees attempt a series sweep with a 10-6 win Thursday at Comerica Park.
"It was a messy day, plain and simple," said winning pitcher Alex Wilson, who was also ejected. "I don't know if there's another way to put it. I'm glad we came out on top, but it was a messy day overall."
The game was interrupted by three incidents involving inside pitches -- one that led to blows between Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine following a Tommy Kahnle pitch behind Cabrera, another the next inning following a Dellin Betances pitch that hit James McCann in the helmet and put the go-ahead run on base. By game's end, both managers had been ejected, along with a coach and five players.
The Betances pitch led to Betances' ejection, as well as Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson's. After David Robertson hit John Hicks with a pitch on the hands and walked JaCoby Jones on four pitches, Iglesias lined a double deep into the gap in left-center field.
"The situation of the game dictated what happened," said Betances, who said he did not hit McCann intentionally. "For me, I was trying to go out there and help the team win, and I feel like me being thrown out there cost us the game."
Betances (3-5) took the loss after throwing just two pitches.
Michael Fulmer, whose fastball inside to Gary Sanchez following his fourth home run of the series began the tensions in the fifth inning, gave up five runs (four earned) over six-plus innings but took a no-decision. Wilson (2-4) retired two batters in the seventh to get the win, but he was ejected in the eighth after hitting Todd Frazier on his left thigh and sparking a third bench-clearing fracas. Former Yankee Shane Greene recorded the final five outs for his fourth save.
"We came here to win. It's unfortunate that we lost this game, all the emotions aside," Romine said. "We're out here to win games and try and win a division, and it's unfortunate these things happened and took away from the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Benches clear in sixth, seventh and eighth: Kahnle was ejected in the sixth inning after he threw a pitch behind Cabrera with two outs and nobody on, as was Yankees manager Joe Girardi for arguing the ejection with plate umpire Carlos Torres. Once the arguments quieted and Aroldis Chapman replaced Kahnle, Cabrera and Romine began arguing and exchanged punches, clearing the benches. The benches cleared two more times over the next two innings, and teammates Justin Verlander and Victor Martinez had to be separated by Nicholas Castellanos during an argument in the Tigers dugout.
"You don't want to see this on the field," Cabrera said. "You don't need to do this to pump yourself up trying to play better. It was the heat of the game, and that happened."
Romine said he didn't do or say anything that led to Cabrera's initial confrontation that set things off.
"He said, 'You have a problem with me?' and I said, 'This isn't about you.' And then he pushed me," Romine said. "It felt like he wanted a confrontation there, and I just tried to defend myself the best I could."
Romine said he was led by instinct to take his mask off after Cabrera began confronting him, and that action seemed to be the last straw for Cabrera.
Sanchez strikes again: After a two-homer game in Tuesday's series opener and another home run Wednesday night, the Tigers were expected to be extra careful with Sanchez. Once Sanchez worked a full count from Fulmer to lead off the fourth inning, however, he turned on a hanging slider and drove it out to left, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
Girardi said he was happy with the way the Yankees played Thursday from an offensive standpoint, and he's already ready to move forward as they continue their push to reach the postseason.
"Just make sure everyone's all right and continue to fight together," Girardi said. "That's it. Fight together, on the field and in everything we do."
"I don't have anything against Romine, against anybody. It was the heat of the game. They tried to be tough." -- Cabrera, on Romine
"I think, honestly, it brought us together and closer with the guys, especially with me and the other guys that just came back on the team. You see guys come together -- you don't want to see it during a brawl, but those things kind of kick-start a team and get them going. We won the series, so that's the best thing out of it, but we lost this game, and that's the biggest thing, because we're fighting for something bigger than what happened today." -- Frazier, on how Thursday's events will affect Yankees
Jones tried to take an extra base on his bloop single into short left field in the eighth, and he initially was called out at second. The Tigers challenged, but after a 2-minute, 39-second review, the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yanks return to New York after an eight-game road trip to face the Mariners in a matchup of postseason contenders at Yankee Stadium, where they will be playing at home without pinstripes on Players Weekend. CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.99 ERA) will get the start Friday in the 7:05 p.m. ET matchup.
Tigers: Verlander (9-8, 3.96 ERA) will take the mound Friday night as the Tigers open a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago on Players Weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.