So baseball took a backseat to an unfortunate bout of bean brawl between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon. Michael Fulmer hit Gary Sanchez. Then Tommy Kahnle threw behind Miguel Cabrera and was ejected. Cabrera and catcher Austin Romine had words, with Romine going chest to chest with Cabrera and taking off his mask, which led to Cabrera shoving him back and throwing punches, and chaos ensued from there. The benches cleared twice more, as three more players were hit, including James McCann taking a fastball to the head. It was a mess. We’ve got the game story here, but there was a lot of grist for the mill in the postgame comments.
First of all, Michael Fulmer made pretty clear that hitting Sanchez was an accident. “I just want to get something off my chest. First of all, I respect Gary Sanchez, I really do, and I would never throw at anybody that hit a home run off me just because they hit a home run.”
Fulmer went on to add that he understood why the Yankees took it the way they did, and that everything should’ve been squashed after they threw at Miguel Cabrera. Of course, by the time the scrum was sorted after Cabrera and Yankee catcher Austin Romine got into it, tempers were already red hot. Fulmer called the pitch that hit Sanchez the result of a zinger caused by the ulnar neuritis he’s been dealing with recently.
Cabrera, for his part, described the scrap between he and Romine in the post-game. "First of all, when they threw at me, it was OK. I was cool with that," Cabrera said. "They started to argue with the umpire and I said to Romine to calm down. He said, "I'm not talking to you" and I said 'Oh, wow.' ... When I got back to home plate, I tell him, 'You got any (bleeping) problem with me?' He said, 'Why?' I said because I try to calm (things) down and you try to act tough. And he said something like, 'You want to fight?'"
Gary Sanchez, who was observed throwing multiple sucker punches at Tigers’ players who were on the ground in the scrum, chalked it all up to the heat of the moment. There better be a serious suspension coming for the bush league display he put on.
“At that moment, instinct just takes over, because you want to defend your teammate. That’s your family out there.” Sanchez said through his interpreter. As to whether the pitch that hit him was intentional, “I don’t know, that’s something you have to ask him (Fulmer).”
The next ugly moment came in bottom of the seventh, when Dellin Betances uncorked a fastball that drilled McCann in the head. For his part, McCann said he doubted that the pitch was intentional, but pointed out that, as a catcher, he knows that after the previous incidents that you can’t call a pitch inside.
However, it was clear from replay that Sanchez was calling for the fastball down in the strike zone and away. Betances either missed his spot by five feet, or was targeting McCann high. Hopefully it was the former. After Betances was ejected, David Robertson came on in relief and promptly drilled John Hicks in the hand.
Thus the stage was set for our final performer in this machismo drama. Alex Wilson calmly finished the beanings by a textbook plunking of Todd Frazier on the upper thigh. While denials flew rather pungently after the whole thing was over, Wilson wasn’t having it.
“Mine was on purpose,” said Wilson. “At that point in the game it was something that had to be handled.”
Finally we get to the managers. Yankees’ skipper, Joe Girardi, was indignant about the job by home plate umpire, Carlos Torres, and crew chief Dana DeMuth, in attempting to get things under control. Apparently they judged Kahnle’s pitch as intentional, which it no doubt was. Girardi was furious and pinned the whole thing on the Tigers. As to whether he had a point in thinking Fulmer should’ve been warned? You be the judge.
(Girardi) said he “didn’t understand why there was no warning” and that they needed to “understand the importance of the game, understand how the game is supposed to be played.”
He also lit into Brad Ausmus for bad language...
Here's Joe Girardi going after Miguel Cabrera and Brad Ausmus. pic.twitter.com/4OaWs8MqxB— Curtis (@Curtos07) August 24, 2017
For his part, Ausmus denied Girardi’s accusations.
"You don't see games like this very often, for good reason, because of injury concerns," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, who drew one of the ejections. "I hope I never see one again."
Another ugly sidebar went unaddressed, as Justin Verlander or Victor Martinez wanted no part of the media after the argument between them in the dugout. As things were sorted after one of the outbursts, Martinez and Yankees’ catcher, and noted suckerpunch champion, Gary Sanchez, were observed standing together and talking things out.
Verlander and Nick Castellanos both looked to be taking issue with Martinez in the dugout, and Martinez had to be held back after Verlander offered a few choice words and stalked away. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know what exactly was said, but the body language was pretty clear.