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Benches clear during Yankees-Jays tilt

Benches clear during Yankees-Jays tilt

TORONTO -- Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista took exception to an errant fastball from right-hander Ivan Nova during the sixth inning of Monday night's 3-2 Jays win, leading to a brief bench-clearing incident with the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

With the score caught in a 2-2 deadlock, Nova unleashed a 92-mph heater that sailed high and inside on Bautista, sending the Blue Jays right fielder tumbling to the dirt. Bautista quickly shifted to his feet and headed toward the mound, yelling and pointing at Nova.

"Instinctively, I was kind of upset," Bautista said. "I was just trying to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from him. I was surprised to see he was pretty defiant. He was walking up towards me and flashing his hands up and started yelling. That's when I felt like the pitch was intentional."

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Nova threw his hands in the air and barked back at Bautista, who proceeded to walk slowly to the mound. Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and home-plate umpire Jerry Meals rushed in front of Bautista and both teams left their respective dugouts and bullpens, storming onto the field and swarming around the mound.

No punches were thrown in the short episode and no players were ejected from the game. Bautista moved back into the batter's box and flew out to center field on the next pitch. Two batters later, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled Nova from the game and the rookie pitcher was showered with boos after his first Major League start.

Nova insisted that the 0-1 missile to Bautista was simply a pitch that got away from him.

"It wasn't on purpose," Nova said. "I just throw the ball. I've got to pitch. I pitch inside, I can get a lot of outs. The pitch was not on purpose."

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira agreed with the rookie pitcher, citing the ball was not nearly as close to Bautista's head as the Jays slugger thought.

"I don't know the reason behind it," Teixeira said. "It wasn't in. It was a ball right down the middle to the backstop. I don't know what that was all about. It happens all the time. I can tell exactly where it is. I think there was something else going on."

As for the dialogue exchanged between the two Dominican Republic natives, Bautista said it was something he didn't want to discuss.

"I'd rather keep that between the lines," he said. "I think that's part of the game that you have to respect."

"I don't think that's a part of the game that you really want to go through," Bautista added. "If he would've thrown at my foot, or my leg, or my back or something I'd be a totally different attitude from my side. The pitch was right at my head and got me pretty upset."

Prior to the sixth inning, Meals ejected Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar and manager Cito Gaston from the game. After flying out to left field to end the fifth inning, Escobar exchanged words with Meals as the shortstop walked to his position. Meals promptly tossed Escobar from the game and then entered into a heated argument with Gaston.

Meals then ejected Gaston, who remained arguing on the field for several minutes before retreating to the Blue Jays' clubhouse.

"I guess they had words," said Gaston. "I just tried to get out there and keep him in the game. Before I got out there, they had thrown him out. I don't know what was said because I couldn't hear it from that distance, but I got out there to try and keep this kid in the game, and of course I got ran out, too."

Bench coach Nick Leyva assumed managerial duties and veteran infielder John McDonald replaced Escobar at shortstop for the duration of the game.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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