I mentioned yesterday that the Detroit Tigers weren't showing much fight against the NY Yankees in the first two games of their series in Detroit, but the Tigers changed that literally in a brawl-filled 10-6 win over the Yankees in the series finale yesterday.
There were eight ejections in all, punches thrown, and a wrestling match at home plate between Tigers star Miguel Cabrera and Yankees catcher Austin Romine in a game that could have been confused for a Red Wings-Rangers tilt from the 1970's.
Things started to simmer when Detroit pitcher Michale Fulmer plunked Yankee DH Gary Sanchez with a pitch in the fifth inning, this after Sanchez had taken Fulmer deep one inning earlier, his fourth home run in the series and eleventh in the month of August. Fulmer was not issued a warning for hitting Sanchez, so when Cabrera got hit by a pitch by the Yankees' Tommy Kahnle in the sixth and Kahnle was thrown out of the game for it, Yankee manager Joe Girardi did his best Tasmanian Devil impression and was promptly ejected. Meanwhile Cabrera and Romine started jawing at each other and Cabrera gave Romine a two-handed shove to the chest and threw some punches as the two players went down in a heap and the benches cleared to enter the fray. Here's how it played out:
During the scrum Sanchez made a bad decision that could come back to haunt him and the Yankees as he was seen throwing haymakers at Cabrera and other players from behind and a suspension will almost certainly follow from the league, putting the skids on what has been a remarkable streak of hitting for Sanchez, especially this month. The Yankees have a strong lead in the wild card race but they would rather win the A.L. east and that quest could be hindered by suspensions. The Yankees are just four and a half games back of Boston for first, well within striking distance but the striking that continued in yesterday's game in the guise of balls thrown at batters continued and got especially ugly when the Tigers' James McCann was hit the following inning square on the helmet by a Dellin Betances fastball clocked at 98 miles per hour. That to me is crossing the line, any time a player is head-hunted. If not for the helmet McCann could well be in a coma this morning. As it was, amazingly, he remained in the game and even homered the following inning, which featured yet another benches clearing incident when the Yankees Todd Frazier was hit with a pitch on his hip.
Girardi was still fuming after the game, blaming the umpires for letting things, as Ron Burgundy might say, escalate quickly, and he has a point. Fulmer probably should have been warned when he threw at Sanchez following the home run. But umps moving forward won't have to worry about another dust-up because, as Apollo Creed once told Rocky Balboa after those two had traded a fair number of blows, there aint gonna be no rematch. That was the final game between the two teams in the regular season, and the Tigers won't be going to the playoffs to see the Yankees in the post season.
Meanwhile the Boston Red Sox must be wondering why their Cy Young candidate and best pitcher since Pedro Martinez keeps getting beat up by one particular team, the Cleveland Indians. Chris Sale got rocked by Cleveland again last night, giving up seven runs in just three innings in Boston's 13-6 loss to the Tribe. It was the shortest outing of Sale's otherwise stellar career, and it's part of a puzzling pattern. Sale's all time record against Cleveland is 5-8 with a 4.87 ERA in the 29 times he's faced them. With the loss the Red Sox get out of Cleveland with an even split of the four game series, but if the standings hold as they are now, the Red Sox and Indians will meet in the playoffs and if you're a believer in past performance as a predictor of future outcomes, you might argue the Red Sox should pitch Doug Fister in game one against Cleveland, as he's beaten them three times this month alone, even though that makes no sense in a larger context, given that Sale is a far superior pitcher, something Fister himself would not argue. Baseball is a hard game to figure out.
For a more feel-good story, there's Robby Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks returning to the mound for the first time since being hit in the head by a line drive comebacker last month, and striking oput nine over five innings to lead the D-Backs to a 3-2 win over the NY Mets.
And the highlights of the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays were two astonishing catches made in the same inning, the fifth, by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who made a sprint worthy of Usian Bolt to catch up to a line drive headed for the gap by Steve Pearce, one of the best catches you'll ever see. And Kiermaier capped off the inning by diving to snag a shallow pop up that was destined to fall in the no-man's land between short stop and center field. If the Yankees-Tigers game was the beast, these two catches by Kiermaier were the beauty. Here they are (follow the video until you get to the fifth inning):
The Oakland A's are in the midst of a losing season but they may have cause to see a brighter future ahead, if they look east to Vermont. It may be only single A level, but it's still professional baseball, and the Vermont Lake Monsters have some pitchers on their roster this season that are giving hope to their parent club out west for the prospect of some good future arms.
Two of those pitchers were on the hill for Vermont last night, and combined for a three-hit shut-out over seven scoreless innings in Vermont's 6-0 win against the Lowell Spinners. Parker Dunshee set down nine of the first ten batters he faced, but even after a walk and a hit batsman in the fourth, Dunshee got out of trouble with a strikeout and double play ball, keeping his season long scoreless streak intact. Brian Howard took over in the fourth and retired eight of the ten Spinners he faced over three scoreless innings, striking out three along the way.