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Tigers' Jones takes pitch to face, Boyd denies retaliating

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — Matthew Boyd said retribution was not on his mind when he threw a fastball behind Twins slugger Miguel Sano in the fifth inning Saturday.

“I throw a lot of change-ups to that guy and he got me on one today,” Boyd said of Sano’s first-inning double. “So, I had to go inside on him (to get him off the change-up) and I missed. I yanked it.”

Sano took a couple of steps toward Boyd, wagging his finger at him. Catcher James McCann stepped in between them and was shoved by Sano. At that point, the benches and bullpens emptied.

Both Boyd and Sano were ejected from the game.

“The pitcher was ejected for intentionally throwing at Sano, in our judgment,” said crew chief Mike Everitt to a pool reporter. “Sano was ejected for throwing a punch at McCann.”

The reason retribution was suspected: Tigers’ center fielder JaCoby Jones was hit in the mouth by an 89-mph fastball from Twins reliever Justin Haley in the third inning, after Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton both hit home runs earlier in the inning.

Victor Martinez and Upton had been hit by Twins pitchers in the series in Detroit earlier this month, too, but the Tigers were seething about the one Jones took in the face.

“It’s one of those things, man, our center fielder got hit in the face,” Castellanos said. “We’re looking at him, and he’s got blood dripping down him. That’s not a good thing. However you want to take that, you can take it.”

Jones lip was split, though initial reports were that he did not lose any teeth.

“It was nasty,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t get squeamish very often, but that made me squeamish. It was a half-inch long cut. You could see the meat inside.”

Jones was sent to a nearby hospital for a precautionary CT scan. Jones was placed on the 10-day disabled list, the team announced.

“It’s one thing to get hit, it’s a whole other story to get hit in the face,” McCann said. “There’s no protection. It’s not a lot of fun and you don’t like to see that happen to your teammate.”

Sano told Minnesota reporters that he didn’t believe Haley intentionally hit Jones, and he said he shoved McCann, he did not take a swing at him. Video replay confirms the latter.

Haley, who was placed on the DL after the game, sent texts to the Tigers and Jones apologizing for the pitch. The Tigers, though, blame Sano for overreacting to Boyd’s pitch.

“I think if Sano doesn’t react — and I understand why he does, I’ve been in that situation — but if he doesn’t react probably nothing happens,” Ausmus said. “But when you are a hitter, you understand the reaction.”

Home plate umpire Jordan Baker wasn’t expecting Sano’s reaction. He was in the process of putting a new ball in play when Sano made his way toward Boyd. McCann was the first to step between Sano and Boyd.

“It’s a man’s game and people are going to react the way they react,” McCann said. “I don’t know what (Sano) was going to do, but I saw him wag his finger at my pitcher. And as far as I’m concerned, you’re not going to do that when I am catching.

“I just stepped in between to prevent anything from happening.”

It turned out to be a good trade for the Tigers. It got the dangerous Sano out of the lineup, the bullpen limited the Twins two runs over the final five innings and the Tigers took a 5-4 win.

“I was unaware that Sano got tossed at first,” Castellanos said. “Once I saw Sano got tossed, too, the whole situation made sense.”

Castellanos provided the winning margin in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI double and then scoring on a sacrifice fly by McCann.

“That’s a good feeling,” Castellanos said. “Getting the RBI and scoring that run, we needed that.”

The Tigers called up center fielder Jim Adduci from Toledo. Adduci, 32, spent the last few season playing in Korea.

Twitter @cmccosky