A few minutes earlier, New York's Edwar Ramirez was gripping the straps of that chest guard, pulling Barajas out from the bottom of a dogpile during a heated altercation between the Jays and Yankees during the eighth inning of Toronto's 10-4 victory on Tuesday night.
The late-inning eruption -- ignited when Yankees catcher Jorge Posada took exception to a very wild pitch from reliever Jesse Carlson -- overshadowed a game filled with positives for the Blue Jays. Toronto matched a season high with five home runs, including two from rookie Travis Snider, and ace Roy Halladay was effective in earning his 15th win of the year.
Those aspects of Tuesday's contest in the Bronx were quickly pushed to the background when -- as home-plate umpire Jim Joyce described it -- Posada took an unnecessary "cheap shot" at Carlson during a tense turn of events in the eighth inning. After scoring a run for the Yankees, Posada threw an elbow at Carlson on his way back to New York's dugout.
As far as Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was concerned, Posada was to blame for everything that followed.
"That started the whole ruckus right there," Gaston said. "I don't know if that was too smart. They certainly have a lot more to lose than we do. They have a chance to go to the playoffs and perhaps win the World Series. You can get a lot of guys hurt out there in that sort of ruckus, so you don't need that going on."
With one out in the eighth, the first pitch Carlson threw against Posada sailed behind the catcher's back and beyond Barajas' reach. Posada yelled at Carlson and the benches cleared briefly, but the situation was calmed swiftly and the game resumed without incident. The Yankees' veteran catcher eventually drew a walk and later scored on a double by Brett Gardner.
During the play, Carlson shifted behind home plate to back up a throw to Barajas. While Posada headed for the bench after scoring, the Toronto left-hander was looking away, upset over the pitch to Gardner. That's when Posada threw an elbow at Carlson, prompting Joyce to immediately eject the catcher from the game.
"It was very unsportsmanlike," Joyce said. "The pitcher wasn't looking for anything like that, and [Posada] ran past him, didn't say anything and just gave him a shove with his elbow. It was very unsportsmanlike. It was a cheap shot."
After Posada was tossed, he ran at Carlson, and the pitcher took a swing at the catcher. The benches and bullpens then emptied and a mass of Blue Jays and Yankees formed down the first-base line, in front of the New York dugout. Posada, Carlson and Barajas were on the bottom of the violent pile, and the pitcher emerged with a significant welt above his left eye.
Carlson didn't know who landed a punch.
"We were kind of right near their dugout and kind of got trampled on a little bit," Carlson said. "I'm not sure who it was, but I was trying to cover up. Somebody moved my hands out of the way and got in a shot. A few seconds later, I was rolling in dirt and got pulled off."
Posada might have had reason to believe Carlson's errant pitch was intentional.
During the series between the teams in Toronto on Sept. 3-6, the Blue Jays (66-79) were hit by pitches six times by Yankees pitchers. On Tuesday night, Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion was hit by New York starter Sergio Mitre in the sixth inning, and Aaron Hill was hit by an offering by Yankees reliever Mark Melancon in the top of the eighth.
For what it's worth, Carlson denied that he threw behind Posada on purpose.
"We've been a hit a lot, but what are you going to do?" Carlson said. "I'm not going to apologize -- no need to. It was just a fastball inside and I yanked the pitch and then things just kept stemming after that, and what happened, happened."
The pitch that hit Hill -- the first throw from Melancon -- struck the second baseman in the middle of his back and came with two outs and the Jays holding a 9-2 lead. Melancon also insisted that he did not hit Hill on purpose, and Joyce noted that he did not deem it to be intentional, either. Even so, Barajas said the timing was curious.
"We don't know for sure if there was intent or not," Barajas said. "But, when you've got two outs and one of the best hitters on your team is up and he gets drilled square in the back, it doesn't look good. I'm not saying they did it on purpose or if there was any intent. Obviously, you see that happen and it kind of makes you wonder."
Carlson and Posada were both ejected from the game, and Joyce said video of the confrontation will be reviewed to determine if any other action is required. One television replay seemed to show Toronto's John McDonald throwing a punch at Yankees manager Joe Girardi, but the veteran infielder insisted that was not the case.
"They show another angle," said McDonald, who added that he was trying to pull Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira away from the pile of players. "I'm sure you can ask Joe. He never got touched by my side."
Lost in the late-inning events was the great night by the Jays' offense. Mitre (3-3) was pounded for seven runs on eight hits, including four home runs, in the loss for New York (93-53). Snider, who has labored since being recalled from Triple-A last month, sent a pair of pitches deep into the second deck above right field -- a two-run shot in the third and a solo blast in the fourth.
"We're talking about baseball now?" Gaston said with a chuckle. "That's great for that kid. He's been struggling. To have a two-home-run night was great for him."
The offensive outburst, which also included homer No. 30 for Adam Lind and solo shots by Jose Bautista and Encarnacion, helped Halladay improve to 15-9 on the season. The right-hander allowed 11 hits, but was able to limit the damage against the Yankees, whose only two runs during Halladay's six innings came in the second.
"There were times I wasn't as sharp, but it's a good team," Halladay said. "They battle you -- they always have. If you're not dead on, it's going to cost you a lot. I felt like for the most part, we made pitches when we had to, but it wasn't one of those days where you're really where you want to be the whole time. We were good enough."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.