Major League Baseball handed out the penalties one day after the Yankees and Tigers got into a trio of beanball-related clashes during Detroit's 10-6 victory. Also suspended were Tigers reliever Alex Wilson (four games), New York catcher Austin Romine (two games) and Detroit manager Brad Ausmus (one game). All four players were appealing and remain eligible until the process is complete.
Sanchez, an All-Star bopper on a powerful tear at the plate lately, was in the lineup for Friday night's home game against Seattle, catching and batting third for the playoff contenders. "It's going to be four games that I'm not going to be able to help the team and I know they need me, so it's not a good feeling," he said through a translator.
New York began the day 4½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East but leading the wild-card race. Cabrera and Wilson also contested their penalties, keeping them available for Friday night's game at the Chicago White Sox. Ausmus can still manage until Wilson's situation is decided.
Detroit entered 55-71, far out of the playoff chase in the American League. Cabrera, who squared off with Romine at home plate in the most furious fight of the day, was annoyed that 6-foot-7, 282-pound Yankees rookie Aaron Judge was not punished. The two-time AL MVP said Judge and Sanchez tried to hit him while he was on the ground.
"There was a lot of people going after me over there and I got a suspension," Cabrera said in Chicago. "I'm not surprised. They're MLB, they do whatever they want and they have to control this situation. But be fair. See the video, see the people who throw punches, see the people who were after me when I was on the floor. That's it."
Replays clearly showed Sanchez throwing punches at prone Tigers players who were down near the bottom of piles. "Things got out of control pretty quickly there," Sanchez said. "I have a really good relationship with Romine. In the moment of everything, instinct takes over. I went out there to defend my teammate, my team. Definitely the situation got out of control a little bit there, but at the end of it all, what you're trying to do is you're trying to go out there and protect your team."
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, ejected after hitting Tigers catcher James McCann in the helmet with a pitch, was not suspended or even fined. Detroit starter Michael Fulmer also avoided any punishment despite hitting Sanchez with a pitch after he homered off the right-hander.
The announcement was made by Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager who is now Chief Baseball Officer for MLB. In all, there were eight ejections in the game. All five individuals who got suspended also were fined an undisclosed amount. Others fined for their actions included Yankees manager Joe Girardi, bench coach Rob Thomson, outfielder Brett Gardner, reliever Tommy Kahnle and Tigers shortstop José Iglesias.
Kahnle was ejected for throwing behind Cabrera after Sanchez was plunked by Fulmer. "The guy threw at me," Cabrera said, not buying Kahnle's explanation that the pitch simply got away. "C'mon, why didn't you say you threw? Be a man and say you threw."
Wilson and Ausmus were ejected in the eighth inning after Wilson hit Todd Frazier around the thigh with a pitch, prompting the benches to clear for a third time. Wilson essentially acknowledged he drilled Frazier on purpose to "take care" of his teammates and "make a stand." The pitcher felt as though that contributed to his suspension.
"In this case, I think, honesty was not the best policy," Wilson said, adding that he was only surprised by the length of his ban. "It's amazing to me. I tell the truth versus not saying anything, and somebody watches the video, that it's a difference. But obviously, it is at this point. I guess lesson learned."
"I really don't think I did anything wrong. I didn't hurt anybody. I put a bruise on the guy's leg — and that's the first ball that was below the waist on the day," he added. "From where I stand, it could have been a lot worse. But lesson learned on speaking the truth in certain situations and we'll move on."
MLB said Cabrera was suspended for "inciting the first bench-clearing incident and fighting," while Sanchez was penalized "for fighting, including throwing punches." The news release also said Wilson was punished "for intentionally throwing a pitch" at Frazier "while warnings were in place for both sides." Romine was banned for "fighting, including throwing punches," and Ausmus got barred "for the intentional actions of Wilson while warnings were in place."
"I still think I was defending myself," said Romine, whose brother, Andrew, plays for the Tigers. A pair of Yankees players, first baseman Garrett Cooper and outfielder Clint Frazier, received fines for going onto the field while they were on the disabled list.
AP freelance writer John Jackson in Chicago contributed to this report.
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