Yankees 11, Blue Jays 10
Johnson had his shortest start in more than a decade, ejected in the second inning by Fieldin Culbreth. The Yankees bounced back to take an eight-run lead against Toronto, then barely held on.
“I can assure you that nobody finds it exciting to come to the ballpark this time of year and have to eject Randy Johnson,” Culbreth said.
Johnson left the clubhouse without talking to reporters
New York used its bullpen to make up for Johnson’s early exit and remained a half-game behind Cleveland in the AL wild-card race and 1 1/2 games back of first-place Boston in the AL East.
With Toronto leading 3-2 with two outs in the second inning, Frank Menechino at the plate and the count 2-2, Johnson threw a pitch on the inside part of the plate that was called a ball. The 6-foot-10 left-hander yelled at Culbreth, who popped out to the first-base side of the plate and took off his mask.
Culbreth yelled something at Johnson and pointed at the pitcher. Johnson yelled something back, and the umpire then ejected him.
Culbreth said he warned Johnson in the first inning after the Big Unit questioned a pitch to Vernon Wells and got “pretty animated,” the umpire said. Culbreth had enough after the pitch to Menechino.
“Randy immediately came off the mound and had some choice words to say. I told him to knock it off and get back on the mound,” Culbreth said to a pool reporter. “He screamed again, an expletive and, `Just call it a strike.’ And at that point he also screamed out, ‘And the pitch to Wells was an expletive strike as well.’ And at that point, I ejected him.
“I would think that he knows that when he came off the mound and was saying that, he had to be putting himself in a position to be ejected.”
John Flaherty, New York’s catcher, got between Johnson and the umpire, and Yankees manager Joe Torre came out of the dugout to argue.
“I was disappointed that Fieldin reacted as quickly as he did, but he has a legitimate gripe,” Flaherty said. “Randy was saying some things in the first inning and by the second inning Cubby had enough. In the first inning they went back and forth and Fieldin told him, to his credit, that he’s had enough and to calm it down.”
Johnson flipped the ball onto the infield before walking to the Yankees dugout.
“You can place blame any where you want to. You can maybe say that Randy went a little too far. There’s probably some truth to that, but I was surprised that Fieldin threw him out as quickly as he did knowing the kind of umpire that he is. He’s a very good umpire,” Flaherty said. “I don’t know if Randy stepped over the line. I didn’t necessarily think he did.”
New York manager Joe Torre said they both overreacted, but he didn’t blame Johnson for showing emotion. He also said Culbreth is a good umpire.
“I just think he pulled the trigger too quickly,” said Torre, who added he would talk to Johnson on Saturday. “I don’t want him not to show emotion.”
Johnson allowed three runs and two hits, throwing 50 pitches. Scott Proctor relieved and retired Menechino on his first pitch.
It was Johnson’s shortest regular-season start since July 23, 1993, for Seattle at Cleveland, when he lasted 1 1-3 innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Johnson gave up eight runs in that game.
Cano hit a three-run homer off Dave Bush (5-9) in the third that put New York ahead 5-3 and a two-run shot off Brandon League in the fourth that boosted the lead to 11-3, the first multihomer game of his career. The rookie second baseman tied his career high of five RBIs, set Thursday at Tampa Bay. He had three hits and is batting .469 (23-for-49) in September.
Proctor (1-0) won for the first time since Oct. 3 last year, also at Toronto, despite allowing four runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Wells hit a three-run homer off Johnson. Toronto has lost four of five, falling to 72-74.
“It changes things a lot when one of the best pitchers in the game gets ejected,” Toronto’s Reed Johnson said. “I think you’d see a lot of teams roll over in that situation.”
Jason Giambi hit an RBI double in the first, but Wells’ 26th homer put Toronto ahead.
Flaherty’s RBI double cut it to 3-2 in the second, and New York scored four runs in the third on Cano’s three-run homer and Flaherty’s second homer of the season.
Toronto’s John Ford-Griffin hit an RBI grounder in the fifth, and the Blue Jays cut the lead to 11-7 in the sixth on Reed Johnson’s three-run double off Felix Rodriguez.
The Yankees became the first team in major league history to hit 200 or more homers in six straight seasons. … Rodriguez hit his 25th homer at the Rogers Centre, the most by any opponent. … Gross replaced Alex Rios in RF to start the second after Rios took his time running to first on a first-inning flyout.