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Festering Yankees-Rays Feud Boils Over After Chapman's High Pitch Causes Benches to Clear

The most intense part of Tuesday’s Yankees-Rays clash came after the final pitch.

With two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning, up 5–3, New York closer Aroldis Chapman fired a 101-mph fastball at the head of Tampa Bay pinch hitter Mike Brosseau. Brosseau dodged the pitch by inches; catcher Kyle Higashioka ducked, too, as it flew to the backstop.

The umpires warned both teams. (With two outs and nobody on in the first, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka had hit Rays third baseman Joey Wendle, who laughed derisively as he trotted to first. At 95.1 mph, it was the hardest pitch Tanaka threw all night.) Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash stormed out of the dugout and complained bitterly to crew chief Chad Fairchild: If you think it was intentional enough to warn us, you should throw him out of the game. Fairchild let Cash rant, then ejected him. Eventually the game resumed and Chapman struck out Brosseau to end the game, then stared him down. Both teams spilled out onto the field and milled around until the umpires separated them.

Afterward, Brosseau said, “If there was any intent behind it, and they wanted to send another message [after hitting Wendle], I guess they made their point.”

Cash did not traffic in hypotheticals. He insisted to reporters that the pitch had been purposeful. “It’s poor judgment, poor coaching, it’s just poor teaching,” he said. He added, “I got a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 miles an hour.”

New York manager Aaron Boone responded, through reporters, “That’s pretty scary comments. I don’t think that’s right at all. But I’m not gonna get into it right now.”

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Chapman, through a Yankees spokesperson, declined to make himself available to the media.

These teams have rankled each other plenty over the years. The Yankees have grumbled about the Rays’ strategy of pitching first baseman D.J. LeMahieu inside; the Rays have grumbled back. The empty ballparks have only exacerbated their dislike, as each team can hear the other’s griping. “We have a little bit of history of chirping and certain things that have gone on in between the white lines,” Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier told reporters on Sunday, before the series began. “I don’t think they’re the biggest fans of us, and vice versa.”

After Tuesday’s game, he echoed himself: “We don’t like them,” he said. “They don’t like us.”

The Rays are currently first in the AL East, 3 ½ games up on the second-place Yankees. The teams face off for the last time this regular season on Wednesday. If they meet again, it will be in the ALCS.

Quick Hits

• We are six months into a global pandemic that has upended life as we knew it. The Marlins are in position to make the playoffs. A year ago, the second sentence would have seemed more unlikely than the first. On Tuesday, Miami beat the Blue Jays 3–2 to move to 16–15 and remain tied with the Phillies for second place in the NL East.

• Reds DH Matt Davidson started Tuesday’s game as the designated hitter and ended it as the pitcher. (Cincinnati lost to the Cardinals 16–2.) He went 0–4 with a walk and allowed two runs in two innings. This was only the 12th time in history a player has spent time at those two positions in the same game—and incredibly, the last time came three days ago, when the Mariners’ Tim Lopes went 1–4 and allowed two runs in one inning in a 16–3 loss to the Angels.

• The Giants beat the Rockies 23–5 on Tuesday. Left fielder Alex Dickerson went 5–6 with three home runs, two doubles and a walk; second baseman Donovan Solano went 4–6 with two doubles; and shortstop Brandon Crawford went 3–6 with a double. Each drove in six runs. According to Stats Perform, they became the first trio of teammates to have at least six RBI each in the same game since the RBI became an official stat 1920.