Aroldis Chapman got suspended. The Rays got revenge.
One night after Chapman “intentionally” --- according to Major League Baseball -- threw a 101-mile per hour fastball at the head area of Tampa Bay’s Mike Brosseau, the Rays had the first and last laughs on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Rays knocked out Jordan Montgomery in the first inning and Brosseau hit two home runs en route to a 5-2 victory in the Bronx.
Tampa Bay opened the game with five consecutive rockets off Montgomery. Manuel Margot doubled. Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer. Austin Meadows singled on a one-hop drive off the rightfield wall. Brosseau crushed a two-run homer to the back of the visiting bullpen in left to make it 4-0. Willy Adames doubled.
"It was emotional," Rays acting manager Matt Quatraro said of Brosseau's homers. "A lot of us had tears in our eyes. A special moment he'll never forget.''
The hoots, claps and hollers from the Rays dugout could be heard in every corner of the fanless stadium. Montgomery (2-2) was gone after two-thirds of an inning.
"They just made some good swings on some bad pitches," Montgomery said. "And it got out of control."
The game was delayed for about five minutes in the bottom of the first as the umpires pulled the teams off the field because a drone was flying over the stadium.
Brosseau hit a solo shot off Jonathan Holder in the fourth to make it 5-0. Clint Frazier homered high off the leftfield foul pole in the sixth for the first Yankees’ run.
The Yankees pulled to within 5-2 on DJ LeMahieu’s two-out, RBI single in the ninth. Luke Voit, the potential tying run, grounded out to Brosseau to end it.
Earlier in the day, MLB announced a three-game suspension of Chapman for “intentionally throwing a pitch at the head area” of Brosseau on Tuesday night.
Chapman appealed his suspension, so he was available for Wednesday’s game. He wasn’t needed.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Rays manager Kevin Cash were also suspended for one game apiece. Boone and Cash do not have appeal rights, so they were replaced by bench coaches Carlos Mendoza (Yankees) and Quatraro (Rays) in the dugout on Wednesday. Chapman, Boone and Cash were also fined an undisclosed amount.
The umpires were clearly not going to let any more beanbrawl nonsense take place on Wednesday. Yankees reliever Ben Heller was ejected in the fifth inning after hitting Hunter Renfroe in the hip with a fastball.
"We're not trying to hit anybody, especially in that situation," Mendoza said while pointing out that the Yankees needed length and Heller was ejected after throwing three pitches.
The Rays did not retaliate. They didn’t have to.
Unless they meet in the postseason – a possibility, by the way – the AL East foes will have to put their simmering rivalry on hold until 2021. The Rays left town with a 4 1/2-game division lead after going 8-2 against the Yankees this season.
"Very disappointed," Gardner said. "Not happy about it. I don't think anybody in that room is."
To the surprise of no one, Boone and Chapman said they disagreed with the suspensions. Cash said he thought his own suspension was “fair,” but said he didn’t have an opinion on Chapman’s ban.
Cash sure did have an opinion – plenty of them – in the aftermath of the incident in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 5-3 Yankees victory. The last thing Cash said was, “And the last thing I'll say on it is, I got a whole [expletive] stable full of guys that throw 98 miles an hour. Period.”
Boone called those comments “scary” on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he didn’t back down, calling Cash’s comments “reckless and inflammatory.”
Boone also said, “I don’t think I should be sitting out tonight, or Chappy. . . I accept it, but I certainly don’t agree with it.”
Chapman, through a translator, said: “I think it was a little harsh.”
Chapman, who didn’t make his season debut until Aug. 17 after a positive COVID-19 test, said he has never hit a batter on purpose. Of course, his sizzling fastball didn’t hit Brosseau in the head . . . but if it had, we could be talking about a significant injury today, which is why the Rays were so upset.
“I understand,” Chapman said. “You take a look at the pitch and the velocity on the pitch and how close the pitch was, yeah, it looks bad. It’s obvious. But I can tell you right now I had no intention of hitting anybody . . . [lack of] fastball command is something I’ve been dealing with all year."