The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are two of MLB’s best teams and engaged in a heated battle at the top of the AL East. Following Tuesday’s game, frustrations boiled over for both teams and led to a benches-clearing brawl and a postgame threat from the Rays’ skipper.
Tampa Bay has dominated the Yankees during the 2020 MLB season, winning seven of their eight meetings entering play on Tuesday. In the first inning, starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka threw inside at Rays’ infielder Joey Wendle. Tanaka’s next pitch went further inside, drilling Wendle below the ribs.
The game went on without incident until the 9th inning, with the Yankees holding a 5-3 lead with two outs. Aroldis Chapman launched a 101-mph fastball that narrowly missed Mike Brousseau’s head.
Umpires issued warning to both benches before play resumed. Brousseau struck out swinging to end the game, giving the Yankees their second win against Tampa Bay in eight meetings.
Immediately after, the benches quickly emptied as players from both teams argued over the incident from minutes prior.
Following the loss, manager Kevin Cash didn’t hesitate to blast the Yankees for intentionally throwing at his players.
If calling out New York’s coaching staff and the club’s judgment wasn’t enough, Cash also seemingly threatened that he has pitchers who can retaliate.
“I can assure you, other than three years ago, there hasn’t been one pitch thrown with intent from any of our guys,” Kevin Cash said, via Juan Toribio. “Somebody has to be accountable and the last thing I’ll say is I have a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph.”
MLB managers rarely ever support retaliatory pitches publicly, let alone threaten the other team that it could happen. When Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone heard about Cash’s comments, he expressed discomfort with the threat of his players being threatened.
We saw earlier this season how seriously MLB is taking benches-clearing brawls following the Houston Astros-Oakland Athletics scuffle. Houston’s hitting coach Alex Cintron was suspended 20 games for instigating the fight.
Given Cash’s comments on Tuesday night and the risks of another ugly incident in MLB’s newest rivalry, it wouldn’t be a surprise if commissioner Rob Manfred levies discipline on Wednesday.