The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t just have a problem with Aroldis Chapman after the flame-throwing closer buzzed Mike Brosseau’s head with a 101-mph fastball behind his head in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 5-3 win Tuesday night at the Stadium.
While Rays manager Kevin Cash charged afterwards that his team also has “a whole damn stable of pitchers” who throw hard, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said Yankees’ third-base coach Phil Nevin was an instigator as the benches cleared without incident afterward.
“The chirping afterwards, Phil Nevin, once again their third base coach, just always being that guy,” Kiermaier said after the game via zoom. “That’s all I’m going to say on that. It is what it is. I’ve said it before, we don’t like them, they don’t like us.”
That wasn’t all Kiermaier had to say about Nevin, however.
“We all know with the protocols and what-not this year that there’s not supposed to be any bench-clearing brawls or benches clearing by any means. The umpires, they voiced that when they were in-between us,” Kiermaier said. “Just the way I saw it was Brosseau struck out and the game is over, and once again, it’s just the same people over there chirping, just trying to stir the pot and whatever.
“I think it’s just a tired act, a couple of their guys over there just nonstop. But like I said, I’m gonna say it once again, they don’t like us, we don’t like them and it’s gonna be easy for emotions to get higher, people sitting here voicing their opinions. It’s a part of the game, always has been, always will. But we move on, and we’ll try to win the series (Wednesday).”
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone clearly took Cash’s post-game comments as a threat for further escalation of the bad blood and headhunting accusations between the teams that dates back several years, calling his counterpart’s words “scary.”
Cash, who was ejected after Chapman’s wild pitch to Brosseau, also was angry that Masahiro Tanaka had plunked Joey Wendle in the first inning.
“I don’t know how close that pitch to Brosseau’s head was for Chapman, but it was 99 miles per hour and that’s not the way to do it,” Kiermaier said. “I don’t know if it got away, I don’t know if there’s intent, who knows?
“But once again, we don’t like them, they don’t us. It is what it is. But the same guys over there are chirping, always trying to be all macho, I don’t know, get attention, whatever you want to call it.”
Asked why he believes such animosity has not subsided, Kiermaier also took a dig at the Yankees’ 2-7 record this season against the first-place Rays, who lead the AL East by 3.5 games entering Wednesday’s series finale.
“Over the years, we’ve both kind of gone back and forth with hitting guys, some with intent, some not,” Kiermaier said. “But I think this year, we have their number and we’ve played very well against them. We’ve beat ‘em time and time again and maybe that frustrates them, I don’t know.
“We’d like to think that is the reason, and it’s easy to get mad over certain things like that. That’s my opinion, but who knows? So we’ll try to come out (Wednesday) and win another series against them and be happy with just that.”