On the heels of a benches-clearing incident in the series opener Friday, Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot was ejected in the sixth inning of New York's 4-0 victory after he plunked Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the left thigh with a fastball.
"I'm not sure if it was intentional," Rodriguez said. "I know it hurt like hell."
Rodriguez had homered -- one of two solo shots Talbot surrendered in his outing -- in his previous at-bat, in the fourth inning. After getting hit in the sixth, Rodriguez went to the ground immediately and the Yankees' staff helped him toward first base. He had some time in the dugout to gather himself while reliever Rafael Perez, on to replace Talbot, warmed up for Cleveland.
Home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna wasted no time tossing Talbot, though there were no warnings issued prior to the errant pitch.
"I was pretty surprised," Talbot said. "I've never been one to hit somebody because they hit a home run, for doing their job. I don't believe in that. I thought it was a little ridiculous. Honestly, I got tossed because [Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira] got hit yesterday. If you take that away and I hit A-Rod today, even after the home run, I don't think I get tossed. I just think they kind of punished me and the team because of what happened yesterday."
Saturday's events come on the heels of Indians starter Fausto Carmona plunking Teixeira in New York's win on Friday. Tempers flared between managers Manny Acta and Joe Girardi after Carmona and Teixeira also exchanged words. The benches cleared, but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
"We had no warning -- no nothing," Acta said of Saturday's incident. "There's no need for it. We have no animosity. Whatever happened yesterday, happened. It's part of the game. I thought that he was throwing the ball very well."
Talbot said after the game he slipped on the mound due to the damp conditions in the Bronx, where it had been lightly raining all afternoon. Iassogna wasn't buying it.
"After the situation we had last night, and Alex hit a big home run last night and hit another home run today, and Curtis Granderson hit a home run last night and another one today, he threw the pitch directly at him," Iassogna said.
Talbot insisted he slipped into a small hole that had formed on the mound, causing the errant pitch.
"It was a two-seam," Talbot said. "If you're going to hit somebody, you hit them with a four-seam. You try to get it in there. It's a tough break. He said, 'You slipped at the wrong time.'"
While the Indians remained skeptical of the ejection, the Yankees are growing restless with the prevalence of hit batters recently.
Six New York batters were hit during the club's mid-week series against rival Boston, before one in each of the first two games in this weekend series against Cleveland.
"It's not for me to say," Teixeira said, "but crazy coincidence."
Talbot, who finished with just the two earned runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings of work, took the losing decision.
But his actions Saturday will likely be on the minds of both clubs -- and the umpires -- in Sunday's meeting.
"I don't know what it is," Girardi said in reference to the slew of hit batters this week. "I really don't. I don't like it. I don't have the answer because I'm not in the mind of the other players and the other team, and I'm not in the dugout and not in the clubhouse to know what they're talking about. But we'll protect our own."