Well the final meeting between the Yankees and Blue Jays in 2016 was certainly a wild one. We had dueling HBPs, multiple on-field confrontations, managers getting ejected, extreme home run pimp jobs NOT done by Jose Bautista, and a nerve-wracking Yankee win. Yowza.
The fireworks started in the top of the 2nd when J.A. Happ took it upon himself to plunk Chase Headley in retaliation for Luis Severino putting one off of Josh Donaldson's elbow guard in the bottom of the 1st. Only problem was that Severino was wild as hell in the 1st inning and the pitch barely hit Donaldson. Benches emptied and words were exchanged after Headley was hit, and Joe Girardi got himself ejected for screaming at the umpires about why Happ wasn't thrown out of the game immediately. He threw ball 1 behind Headley's legs before hitting him.
Moving to the bottom of the 2nd tied at 1, Severino didn't waste any time in sticking up for his teammate. He fired the first pitch of the inning way inside on Justin Smoak and then came right back with the second one and hit him in the legs. Benches cleared again and this time there were more than just words exchanged. CC Sabathia was trying to get at Donaldson, Severino had to be pulled away by coaches and teammates before he could go at Smoak, Russell Martin and Gary Sanchez were jawing and trying to square off behind the plate, and Tyler Austin caught a punch to the eye somewhere in the middle of all of it. When the dust settled, Severino, Larry Rothschild, and Rob Thomson were ejected. Nobody on the Jays was. Whatever.
There was a baseball game after all of this, and the Jays led most of it 3-1 after plating 2 runs in the 3rd against Jonathan Holder. The Yankees chipped back in the 8th on a Brett Gardner double and a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single, and they unloaded on Jason Grilli in the top of the 9th with 5 runs. The first came on a deep Mark Teixeira home run to right, a home run that he pimped big time out of the box and then taunted Grilli about from the dugout after he rounded the bases. Aaron Hicks took Grilli deep for a 2-run shot 2 batters later and the Yankees went to the bottom of the 9th with a comfortable 7-3 lead.
Normally that would be a cakewalk for Dellin Betances, but he's so out of gas and out of sorts command-wise right now that he can barely be counted on for 1 out. He didn't record any in the bottom of the 9th, going walk, error, wild pitch, walk to load the bases. Emergency manager Joe Espada went to Tommy Layne to stop the bleeding. He got Donaldson to fly out, walked in a run, watched the bloopiest of bloops singles score another run to make it 7-5, then helped his own cause by fielding a Russell Martin chopper in front of home plate and diving to the plate himself to get the force out. Down 0-2 in the count, Troy Tulowitzki lifted a high foul ball down the left field line that Brett Gardner made a nifty sliding catch on to end it. Big time pressure spot for Layne and he came through. That game was much more fun to win than it would have been to lose after all the early-inning shenanigans.
- Teix went 2-4 with the game-tying dinger. Gardner was 3-4 with 3 runs scored from the leadoff spot, and Ellsbury went 2-4 with 2 ribbies.
- Even without the ejection, it would have been a short night for Severino. He was on a 50-pitch limit and he threw 30 in the 1st inning. Fastball command was nowhere to be found and he missed way down and out of the zone with the slider as many times as he threw good ones for strikes. The Yankee staff really needs to work with him on a lot of stuff if he's going to be a starter long-term. He looks like a completely different pitcher than when he's working out of the 'pen.
- Speaking of the bullpen, great work by the committee of James Pazos, Kirby Yates, Richard Bleier, and Adam Warren to keep the Jays at 3. They combined to work 5.2 scoreless innings against one of the best lineups in baseball.
- Happ got most of the blame for starting a fight that didn't need to be started, but it's worth pointing out how horribly the whole situation was handled by the home plate ump. Joe should not have been ejected the first time the benches emptied, and for the fight to break out the next inning and 3 more Yankees come out of it ejected while no Blue Jays do is ridiculous. If Happ gets tossed after hitting Headley, which he rightfully should have, Severino doesn't go out looking for payback in the bottom of the 2nd, and the second bench-clearing incident doesn't happen. Horrible job controlling the situation before it escalated, and even worse job handling post-fight punishments after it did.