Sabathia struck out García looking to strand two runners in the sixth inning, and the 38-year-old left-hander shouted as he walked off the mound. A surprised García looked up and raised his arms, and Sabathia then directed his jawing at García. The two pointed and yelled at each other as the benches and bullpens cleared.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius ran in to restrain Sabathia and led him back to the dugout. Both teams dispersed shortly after. Sabathia said he wasn't shouting at García initially. "Honestly, I think just a misunderstanding," Sabathia said. "I wasn't talking to him. He looked up at me and said something, and it was on.
"I was just yelling out, kind of pumping myself up. He might have took offense to it. It is what it is. I'm never going to back down." García remained confused by the scuffle after the game. "I didn't say anything," he said. "I don't know what was happening. It was for no reason."
Sabathia was ejected for plunking the Rays' Jesus Sucre during his last regular season start in 2018 and has had a few salty run-ins with Tampa Bay this season, including when he threw at Austin Meadows three times and shouted insults during a game in May.
"He stared at people. If you stare back at him, I think he gets mad, but I don't know what just happened today," Rays infielder Willy Adames said. "I don't know, but he's been like that with us, you know, the past, say since last year."
Sabathia didn't realize Gregorius — listed at 205 pounds compared to Sabathia's 300 — was the one who corralled him back into the dugout. "It felt like holding a bear," Gregorius said. Sabathia allowed three runs in six innings and struck out six. He has a 2.63 ERA in eight starts against the Rays over the past two seasons.
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