TORONTO – Sticky stuff. A dugout quarrel. Growing tension between division rivals and no shortage of drama.
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays delivered again Tuesday with a game that had a bit of everything. And just like a night earlier, it was Yankees slugger Aaron Judge who was front and centre.
Judge hit a no-doubt, go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Erik Swanson to lift New York to a 6-3 victory at Rogers Centre.
“It’s two really good teams that like to jab back and forth at each other,” said Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman, who struck out 10 over seven innings. “There’s definitely a little bit of a dislike so that adds to the fuel.”
Isiah Kiner-Falefa also homered for the Yankees, who lost starter Domingo German to a fourth-inning ejection after an inspection of his throwing hand.
German, who retired all nine batters he faced, is likely facing a 10-game suspension.
“The instant I looked at his hand, it was extremely shiny and extremely sticky,” umpire crew chief James Hoye told a pool reporter. “It’s the stickiest hand I’ve ever felt.”
Ryan Weber (1-0) earned the victory and Wandy Peralta worked the ninth for his third save. New York (25-19) has won seven of its last nine games.
Kevin Kiermaier homered for Toronto (24-18).
The Blue Jays were in touch with Major League Baseball earlier in the day about the positioning of New York’s base coaches in the opener of the four-game series.
The issue was raised after Judge — who was heavily booed during each plate appearance — made a quick and unusual glance to his right before hitting a mammoth homer on Monday night.
Yankees third-base coach Luis Rojas had a lively discussion with the umpires early in Tuesday’s game, apparently for not standing within the confines of the coaching box.
Members of both dugouts also shouted words at each other.
“(Pitching coach) Pete (Walker) was probably — more playfully than anything — saying ‘I’m watching you,’” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “You probably all heard that. But Rojas kind of took exception to it.
“It’s two competitive teams. You’re not pleased with the way everything has shaken out the last 24 hours. I think it’s just people being competitive.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone also weighed in.
“It’s silliness, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “And I think everyone, I hope on both sides, realizes it.”
In the fourth inning, first-base umpire D.J. Reyburn was the first to look at German’s hand as the pitcher walked out to the mound. Television replays appeared to show a dark substance on the side of the right-hander’s pants.
German apologized to his teammates after the game.
“It was definitely just the rosin bag,” he said via an interpreter. “It was sweat and (the) rosin bag. I don’t need any extra help to grab the baseball.”
Umpires will occasionally check a pitcher’s hands and fingers during a game for foreign or sticky substances. It was the fourth ejection since MLB started cracking down on prohibited grip aids two years ago.
Hoye said the substance was “definitely not rosin,” but didn’t want to speculate on what it might be.
“We all had the same opinion,” Hoye said of his four-man crew. “Shiny, extremely sticky, and it’s the worst hand we’ve ever felt during a game.”
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With New York up 2-0, Yankees reliever Ian Hamilton was pressed into service and loaded the bases with two outs. He left the game due to groin tightness but Ron Marinaccio came on and got Whit Merrifield to line out.
Kiner-Falefa hit his first home run of the season in the fifth inning but Kiermaier answered with his third homer to kick-start Toronto’s three-run frame.
George Springer singled and scored on a Bo Bichette double. A single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. brought home Bichette with the tying run.
In the eighth, Judge turned on a slider for his 11th homer of the season. The ball travelled 448 feet and left the bat with a game-high exit velocity of 113.1 m.p.h.
Guerrero left the game in the eighth inning with right knee discomfort. Schneider said he’ll undergo an MRI exam and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
The Blue Jays put runners on the corners in the bottom half of the frame but Clay Holmes struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Belt to end the threat.
Kiner-Falefa scored his third run of the game when he came across in the ninth on a Gleyber Torres sacrifice fly.
Gausman allowed two earned runs, five hits and a pair of walks. Swanson (2-2) absorbed the loss.
Announced attendance was 35,112 and the game took three hours two minutes to play.
Before the game, the Blue Jays recalled right-hander Thomas Hatch from Triple-A Buffalo.
Fellow reliever Jay Jackson was optioned to the Bisons.
Chris Bassitt (5-2, 3.49 earned-run average) was tabbed to start for the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. The Yankees were expected to counter with Gerrit Cole (5-0, 2.22).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2023.
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