MINNEAPOLIS -- The benches cleared for both the Twins and Tigers on Saturday after Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd threw a 91-mph fastball behind Minnesota first baseman Miguel Sano in the fifth inning of the Tigers' eventual 5-4 win at Target Field. Sano objected and pointed his finger at Boyd, then he shoved catcher James McCann when McCann put his glove in Sano's face as he tried to get between Sano and Boyd.
Sano was immediately ejected after the hard shove of McCann, and both benches cleared, including relievers running in from the outfield bullpens. After a conference at the mound, Boyd was ejected for throwing behind Sano.
"I don't want to talk about what he said, but he touched me with his glove and I reacted," Sano said. "It was a glove to the face. They were supposed to eject McCann, too, but I saw they didn't eject him."
Boyd maintained it wasn't on purpose, as Sano singled off him in the first, and he was trying to go inside. He also said he was surprised he was ejected, as he didn't hear anything from the umpires until several minutes after the fracas.
"I was trying to go in and missed -- yanked it," Boyd said. "It's my first situation with anything like this. I don't really know how it all works. I was really hoping to stay in there and keep going."
Twins Rule 5 right-hander Justin Haley had previously hit center fielder JaCoby Jones in the face with an errant fastball in the third inning. Jones had to leave the game and was replaced by Andrew Romine. But the Twins were adamant that Haley didn't intentionally throw at Jones, who is hitting .150 this season and was hit with a 1-2 count.
"I just said, 'Watch out. You don't have a reason to hit me,'" Sano said. "Our pitcher, he didn't intentionally hit him in the face. Nobody wants to hit anybody in the face. If that team is saying we're trying to hit somebody, it would be in the leg or something, but never in the face."
Twins manager Paul Molitor and Sano both contended that Boyd threw behind Sano on purpose in retaliation for Jones' hit-by-pitch, and the umpires agreed.
"The pitcher was ejected for intentionally throwing at Sano, in our judgment," crew chief Mike Everitt said in a statement. "Sano was ejected for throwing a punch at McCann."
It was the second career ejection for Sano, who was replaced by Joe Mauer, who doubled and scored. Molitor and Sano said they weren't sure if Sano would be suspended, but Molitor said he wasn't disappointed in Sano's reaction because it was in the heat of the moment.
"To me, [Sano] with the emotion of the moment and McCann getting in between, he just reacted," Molitor said. "There seemed to be some contact initiated by McCann. I don't think [Sano] likes someone putting their hands on him very much."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus also said he understood why Sano reacted the way he did, but he believed Boyd didn't throw at him intentionally and was surprised to see him tossed.
"There's no warnings out," Ausmus said. "Boyd was all over the place all day. He didn't exactly have his best command. But I guess there doesn't have to be a warning, so the umpires made that decision."