Rodriguez was hit on his left leg by a pitch from Toronto’s Josh Towers during the New York Yankees’ 9-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, and Clemens plunked Alex Rios in the middle of his back.
Benches and bullpens emptied twice after Rodriguez was hit in the third inning. Clemens and Yankees manager Joe Torre were ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez after Rios was hit by the first pitch of the seventh. Clemens and Torre likely will be suspended.
On a night that top prospect Joba Chamberlain made his major league debut and Jason Giambi returned after more than two months on the disabled list, the Yankees won their fifth straight and improved to 20-7 since the All-Star break. They’re just five games back of AL East-leading Boston, the closest they’ve been since April 25.
And as it is on most days, the focus was on A-Rod.
Several Blue Jays were angry at Rodriguez after he distracted Howie Clark on a key popup late in a game on May 30, yelling at the infielder as A-Rod approached third base. Jesse Litsch threw behind Rodriguez’s legs in A-Rod’s first at-bat in Monday’s series opener.
“I guess yesterday wasn’t a mistake,” Torre said.
Towers (5-9) hit the Yankees slugger on the first pitch his second at-bat Tuesday.
“It got me pretty good,” said Rodriguez, who was still limping after the game. “We’ll see how I wake up in the morning. It hit me in the calf straight up.”
Rodriguez immediately took a few steps toward the mound before he was cut off by Hernandez. The Yankees and Blue Jays spilled out onto the field. Toronto’s Matt Stairs had to be restrained by New York’s Andy Phillips as he tried to go after A-Rod at first base.
“It was heated,” Torre said. “I’m just glad it didn’t come to blows where it could have gotten ugly.”
After the field cleared and as the umpires huddled to discuss the situation, Towers and Rodriguez exchanged words and walked toward each other. Rodriguez said, “You talking to me? You talking to me?” and was restrained by first base coach Tony Pena as both benches and bullpens came onto the field again.
Towers said his problem the second time was with Pena, not Rodriguez.
“I heard somebody chirping when I was talking to Lyle (Overbay) and I didn’t think it was Alex and I asked who it was,” Towers said. “Tony Pena is running his mouth off and I was like, ‘What’s this guy running his mouth off for?’ This dude is a quitter. He managed a team and quit in the middle of the season because he couldn’t hack it. He’s going to run his mouth off? So I ended up getting into it with Alex a second time.”
Pena quit as manager of Kansas City in May 2005.
“I don’t care,” Pena said when asked about the incident. “I have no comment. Let him talk.”
No punches were thrown either time and no one was ejected from the game.
Stairs sat on top of a cooler on the top step of the dugout following the incident, staring out at the field. Hernandez spoke with Clemens before the bottom half of the inning.
Rodriguez went 0-for-4 before being replaced at third base by Wilson Betemit in the eighth.
“His calf was starting to get tight but he should be all right,” Torre said.
Clemens (4-5) threw six shutout innings before he hit Rios with his first pitch of the seventh.
“We got warned,” Torre said. “I guess in his (Hernandez’s) estimation, Roger hit him on purpose. It’s automatic at that point in time if he feels that’s the case.”
Torre came out of the dugout and the Yankees infielders surrounded the entire umpiring crew as Clemens argued with Hernandez before leaving the field. It was the first ejection of the season for Clemens and Torre’s third.
“I was asking for another ball and he showed me to the door,” Clemens said. “I just wanted to discuss something with him before I left.”
Stairs and Posada were each hit by pitches in New York’s 5-4 win on Monday. Rodriguez also slid hard into McDonald while trying to break up a double play in the fourth, swiping his left arm in anger and yelling at second base umpire Derryl Cousins.
Clemens won for the first time in three starts, allowing one run and two hits, walking one and striking out seven. He retired 13 consecutive batters between the second and sixth innings and struck out four of five at one stretch.
Called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre before the game, 21-year-old right-hander Joba Chamberlain made his major league debut in the eighth and pitched the final two innings. Chamberlain struck out two, topping out at 97 mph.
“He’s electric,” Torre said. “It looked like his slider was mean.”
Jason Giambi, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list before the game, pinch hit for Duncan in the ninth and grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Toronto’s Brian Tallet hit Robinson Cano on the hand on a check swing in the seventh. … Posada was twice thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Left fielder Reed Johnson threw him out in the second and Rios did it in the fifth.