The series had been a tame one for the Yankees, coming after 10 consecutive games with their two fiercest rivals, the Red Sox and Mets. But things took a turn in the fifth inning Thursday when Tigers pitcher Michael Fullmer hit Gary Sanchez with a fastball in the thigh. The pitch came one inning after Sanchez had hit his fourth home run of the series, a solo shot off Fullmer that had given the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
The home plate umpire, Carlos Torres, did not warn either dugout after Sanchez was hit, perhaps because Ausmus and a trainer immediately came out to check on Fullmer, who appeared to wince after throwing the pitch.
But there was no such indecision when Kahnle, who had struck out the first three batters he faced, including the first two in the sixth, threw a first-pitch fastball behind Cabrera that sailed to the backstop. Torres immediately ejected Kahnle, which sent Girardi sprinting out of the dugout to protest. Girardi gesticulated wildly, pointing his finger and kicking at the dirt before he, too, was ejected.
As Aroldis Chapman, who replaced Kahnle, finished warming up and the game was about to resume, Cabrera and Romine began talking. As the discussion became more animated, Romine took off his catcher’s mask. As he did, Cabrera shoved him in the chest, then dropped his bat, assumed a boxer’s stance and threw a punch.
Romine tackled Cabrera around the thighs and took him to the ground as players poured out of both dugouts and sprinted from the bullpens. As Romine punched Cabrera on the ground, his fellow catcher, Sanchez, came in and threw at least two punches before he was pulled away from the scrum.
Romine and Cabrera were ejected, but Sanchez was not, which not only spared the Yankees their best hitter but also their only other catcher on the roster besides Romine. Sanchez’s single in the seventh brought home Brett Gardner from second base with the tying run, capping the Yankees’ three-run rally that tied the score at 6-6.
The Tigers answered with three in the bottom of the inning on Iglesias’s three-run double to the left-center-field gap off David Robertson, who had replaced Betances.
Betances was not immediately ejected, which drew an argument from Ausmus. But after the umpires huddled, the crew chief Dana DeMuth informed Betances that he had to leave. Thomson, who came out to argue along with the pitching coach Larry Rothschild and the first-base coach Tony Pena, also was ejected.
Robertson relieved Betances and proceeded to hit John Hicks on the hand — a wayward pitch that was apparently deemed an accident. He then walked JaCoby Jones to load the bases before Iglesias cleared them with his third hit of the game.
The extracurriculars, though, were not finished. When Wilson, the Tigers reliever, hit Frazier with a pitch in the eighth, he was ejected and the benches emptied again.
Order was restored again and, an inning later, and with the Comerica Park crowd on its feet, the former Yankee pitcher Shane Greene struck out Sanchez for the final out.
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