TOR-TB benches clear after Kiermaier HBP

September 23rd, 2021

What Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo termed "agua under the bridge" on Tuesday night escalated on Wednesday afternoon when Rays outfielder was hit in the back with a pitch from Toronto reliever in the 8th inning.

Kiermaier, who had picked up and kept a scouting card that had fallen from the wristband of catcher Alejandro Kirk during Monday's game, took affront and stared at the mound as he was escorted to first base. The benches cleared, and Borucki was ultimately ejected, which caused Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker to erupt. Walker had some words for the umpiring crew and was also promptly tossed, even as Montoyo tried to hold him back.

Amidst the celebration of the Rays clinching a postseason spot with their 7-1 win, Kiermaier said that he felt Borucki’s pitch was intentional and a “weak move.” That’s just another thing that has him looking forward to October.

“I hope we play those guys, I really do,” Kiermaier said. “I hope we play them.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash also thought it was intentional, expressing his disappointment that an issue he thought was put to bed was handled that way.

Borucki saw it differently. The left-hander said the pitch was unintentional and the result of missing a pitch to his arm side, something Borucki says he often does. Umpire Joe West told Borucki that he had to go immediately, and Borucki didn’t argue.

“I wanted to go down and away,” Borucki said. “As I was coming forward, I felt the ball slip out of my hand and I missed up and in, and I accidentally hit him. They can think what they want over there in their locker room, but it is what it is, and that’s all I’ve got.”

Montoyo also said that the pitch wasn’t intentional, but he said he understood the moment and what the Rays were thinking. He also noted that the Blue Jays were at the end of a bullpen day, already five arms deep, and were hoping that Borucki could close it out.

Instead, they had to get Nate Pearson up to finish things.

“We didn’t want to use another pitcher, that’s why Pete was so upset,” Montoyo said. “[Borucki] missed. He hit him, but I understand what it looks like. That’s why I don’t get excited, because I understand what the other team thinks about it and what the umpires think about it, because that [story] was out for two days. That’s what happened.”

Kiermaier might get his wish, as these teams could be on a collision course for the American League Division Series. The loss briefly slid the Blue Jays back into a tie with the Yankees for the second Wild Card spot and gave the Red Sox a two-game cushion. The winner of that Wild Card Game could head to St. Petersburg, where the Rays would be waiting.

If it’s the Blue Jays coming to town on Oct. 7, that series just got a lot more interesting.