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Benches Clear — Again And Again — During Brawls Between Yankees And Tigers

The Yankees and Tigers raise dust on the diamond after both benches cleared in Detroit on Thursday.
Gregory Shamus
Getty Images
The Yankees and Tigers raise dust on the diamond after both benches cleared in Detroit on Thursday.

Things got a little out of hand in Detroit on Thursday.

The way the game between the Tigers and the New York Yankees opened, though, you'd be forgiven for having thought it was going to be just another dog-day matinee. The two teams exchanged a pair of runs in the early innings, but for the most part, it was shaping up to be a low-scoring, modest affair.

Then, Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer hit the Yankees' Gary Sanchez with a fastball in the fifth inning. And in the sixth, Tigers star Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate and promptly got a pitch thrown behind his back. In the hubbub afterward, both the Yankees pitcher, Tommy Kahnle, and his manager, Joe Girardi, were ejected.

But the dust briefly seemed to settle — until a few heated words between Cabrera and the Yankees catcher behind him, Austine Romine, exploded into a flurry of misplaced haymakers.

Matters devolved distressingly fast from there.

Within seconds both teams had leapt off their benches into the fray, players and managers alike grasping at jerseys, flailing at times to hit their opponents or hold their teammates back. Even the relievers ran in from the bullpen.

And at the center of the chaos, Cabrera and Romine kept at it.

"Wow!" the announcer on the game exclaimed, taken aback. "When was the last time you saw that?"

The answer: Quite a while, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The sports research service says the eight ejections by game's end were the most seen in any game so far this season, and the five ejections earned by the Yankees alone — including both manager Girarand and the guy who replaced him — were the most by a single team this season.

Both teams racked up so many because the bitterness didn't end with the sixth inning brawl — nor did the dangerous pitches. The very next inning, the Tigers' James McCann got beaned in the helmet with a fastball, and the inning after that, the Yankees' Todd Frazier was hit with a pitch — both incidents prompting the benches to clear twice more.

After the game, Girardi laid the blame for the chaos squarely at the feet of the umpires, who he said sowed the seeds of the conflict by attempting — and failing — to eject some antagonists while leaving others in the game.

"Just a very poor job on their part," Girardi told the media after the game. "Very, very poor."

Luckily, though, there were no immediate reports of injuries from the series of brawls, though suspensions are likely to be forthcoming.

Oh, and the Tigers won, 10-6.

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.
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