Girardi, Phelps, Pena ejected; benches clear
Yanks' manager tossed after plunking of Jeter; retaliatory pitch escalates feud
ST. PETERSBURG -- A game that started with a ceremony honoring Derek Jeter ended with three Yankees ejections and a benches-clearing incident.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was tossed in the top of the eighth inning of Tuesday's 6-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field after Jeter was hit on the left hand by Rays reliever Steve Geltz. Acting manager Tony Pena, the Yankees' bench coach, was ejected a half-inning later, as was reliever David Phelps, when Phelps sent a fastball under Kevin Kiermaier's chin and to the backstop. Both dugouts and bullpens cleared.
"I'm tired of it," Girardi said. "I'm tired of my guys getting hit, and where they're getting hit. I'm tired of it. You're going to pitch inside, learn to pitch inside. You pitch down in the zone. You don't pitch up. … This is not practice. This is guys' livelihood."
The Yankees have endured five hit-by-pitches in the club's last five games against the Rays, dating to their series at Yankee Stadium last week. Among those plunked were Jeter, who was hit on the left elbow by Brad Boxberger last week, and Chase Headley, who was hit on the chin by a Jake McGee pitch.
"It's always frustrating any time you get hit," Jeter said. "You understand it's part of the game, but yeah, it's frustrating when guys continually get hit. ... They were frustrated when they almost got hit, so I'm sure there's frustration on both sides."
Girardi was a little more than frustrated, though.
"I'm all for pitching inside, but you've got to know how to pitch inside because it's extremely dangerous," Girardi said. "Chase Headley's lucky. He's lucky he's OK. I don't know what they expect."
Even Rays manager Joe Maddon said he couldn't fault Girardi and the Yankees for being upset.
"I really don't blame the Yankees for being upset right there," Maddon said. "We've hit a couple of their guys -- obviously none of it intentional. But again, I understand the frustration. I get it totally."
After the game, Maddon echoed that opinion on Twitter.
"Understand the Yankees frustration, but there was no intent. It's baseball," Maddon tweeted.
Understand the Yankees frustration, but there was no intent. It's baseball.- Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) September 17, 2014
Girardi's ejection followed a sequence that began in the bottom of the seventh inning with a tremendous catch by Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. With the bases loaded and one out, Wil Myers drove a ball deep into right-center field that looked like it would clear the bases. But Ellsbury, sprinting back and to his left, made a brilliant diving grab.
Because Ellsbury was so deep in the outfield when he dove, James Loney was able to tag up from second and score, as was Evan Longoria from third. The Yankees appealed the play, believing Loney left early, but Loney was ruled safe and Girardi came out to argue the call. By rule, tag-up appeal plays can't be reviewed. Girardi continued to voice his frustration but was not ejected at that time.
After Jeter was hit in the top of the eighth, though, a fuming Girardi was tossed by home-plate umpire Rob Drake. After Drake warned both dugouts, Girardi came onto the field pointing and yelling at Geltz. Girardi also appeared to exchange words with Longoria, who had come in from third base to support his pitcher.
"I was totally caught off guard," Geltz said. "I felt like [Girardi] of all people should know -- the guy has been around baseball forever -- he should know that's not intentional. … I'm not trying to hit him -- it's Derek Jeter."
Then, in the bottom of the inning, Phelps went up and in on Kiermaier and was immediately ejected by Drake, as was Pena.
"None of their guys got hit, and I got thrown out," Phelps said. "That's one frustrating thing. You guys saw my command the other night -- I was missing glove side a lot. It was just a fastball that got away from me. … I thought you had to hit somebody to get thrown out of the game."
At that point, the benches and bullpens cleared, with players on both sides exchanging words. Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez, who has been in the middle of the Rays' many scrums with the Red Sox this season, had to be held back by members of the Rays' coaching staff.
"I did not want anything to detract from the evening," Maddon said. "I thought our ceremony before the game was outstanding; I thought the gift was great. The last thing you want to do was detract from the evening, and from my perspective in the dugout, I thought it did put a little bit of a nick into it."