Benches clear twice in Red Sox-Yankees; 3 players, 1 coach ejected

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Thursday, April 12, 2018

BOSTON -- The bad blood is back in baseball's most intense rivalry.

The benches cleared twice in Wednesday night's game at Fenway Park between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and Yankees designated hitter Tyler Austin was in the middle of everything.

During the second incident in New York's 10-7 win, in which Austin was hit by a pitch, there were punches and pushes.

"Once I got hit, it was going to happen," Austin said.

"It" being the second of Wednesday's bench-clearing dust-ups, a brawl that added to the litany of fights that have occurred throughout the storied rivalry. This particular brawl included towering Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hauling a Red Sox pitcher off the field in a headlock, Austin connecting with a punch on a Red Sox assistant coach and the two teams expressing contradictory feelings as to what precipitated the events in question.

Once the fight was over, even one former Red Sox-Yankees brawl participant, Pedro Martinez, chimed in on the incident on Twitter.

The bad blood is back, and it has people buzzing.

"Red Sox-Yankees," Boston pitcher David Price said. "That's what everybody wants. That's what they got."

It all began in the bottom of the third inning, when Austin was a runner on first base. As Yankees second baseman Tyler Wade laid down a bunt along the third-base line, Austin raced to second base, where he slid into Red Sox shortstop Brock Holt.

Holt took exception to the somewhat late slide, and after the forceout was recorded, he and Austin began yelling at each other. Players from both dugouts and bullpens raced out to second base, where the yelling intensified momentarily.

"I don't think it was intentional. I think he was going in hard, and it was a bunt," Holt said. "I'm not going to turn a double play on that, especially with Wade running, so I think he was just going in hard, but he went in hard a little late with his spikes up."

Austin disagreed with Holt's assessment of the timing of the slide.

"My slide into second base was a clean slide, and I play the game hard," Austin said. "I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with that slide."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman echoed those sentiments.

"Nothing remotely dirty about it," Boone said.

"There was no reason for fisticuffs to happen based on that slide," Cashman added.

But they did. After the teams separated from the third-inning jawing session, game action resumed.

Four innings later, the sparks flew.

A 97.7 mph fastball from Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly hit Austin in the back of his left elbow, one pitch after Austin watched another fastball whiz closely by him well off the inside corner.

When he was hit, Austin became instantly enraged, throwing his bat down and then his helmet before charging the mound.

"How angry did that make us?" Judge asked, responding to a reporter's question. "No one likes getting hit with a 98 mph fastball, so everybody was pretty upset about it."

As Austin jogged up to Kelly, the pitcher appeared to egg him on, motioning for him to step forward while the benches and bullpens cleared.

"I mean, I was ready to defend myself," Kelly said. "If someone comes on my property in my backyard, I'm going to put up two dogs and get ready to defend myself."

In the ensuing fracas, Kelly and Austin tussled briefly on the ground, and Austin threw a punch that landed on the side of the head of Red Sox third-base coach Carlos Febles. Not long after, Austin was pushed back by Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames, while Judge and fellow Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton walked amid a pile of Red Sox players from the mound area to Boston's dugout.

Judge, who ended up getting Kelly in a headlock, said his sole intention was to get the pitcher away from the scuffle in order to diffuse the situation.

"I saw Kelly going after Tyler after he tried to tackle him, so my job was to get Kelly up and get him off," Judge said. "I was just trying to get him up and pick him up."

The sight of the 6-foot-7 Judge and the 6-foot-6 Giancarlo Stanton charging onto the field was enough to spook the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Holt.

"Yeah, I'm not trying to get involved with any of those guys," Holt said. "I mean, not just those two. They have a pretty big team over there."

The entire scene prompted Martinez -- the former Boston pitcher who infamously grabbed then-72-year-old Yankees assistant coach Don Zimmer by the head and threw him to the ground during the 2003 ALCS, another of the famed brawls between the teams -- to tweet about what he felt Kelly did wrong in this latest incident.

Once the tensions eased, Kelly and Austin were ejected, as well as Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin and Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle. Kelly was replaced by pitcher Brian Johnson, and Shane Robinson replaced Austin. Yankees quality control coach/infield instructor Carlos Mendoza came in for Nevin.

Nevin said he had been yelling at Boston's bench, expressing his "displeasure" over something that happened in the game. The arguing went back and forth, he said.

"You catch the tail end of something," Nevin said. "[The umpires] get the second guy sometimes."

According to Boone, Kahnle was ejected for yelling at an umpire. The pitcher contended to Boone that he was pushed aside "pretty significantly."

The ejections were the first for either team in 2018. Boston's most recent ejection came in September, when then-pitching coach Carl Willis was tossed from a game at Yankee Stadium. About two weeks before in a game at Detroit, Yankees Dellin Betances, Kahnle and Austin Romine were ejected after a brawl with the Tigers.

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