Damon ejected from opener with Twins

Damon tossed in third inning

NEW YORK -- Left fielder Johnny Damon was ejected in the third inning of Friday night's Twins-Yankees game by home-plate umpire Wally Bell for arguing a called third strike.

After checking his swing, Damon argued with Bell and gestured with his hands to indicate that he thought the pitch was inside.

Following the Yankees' 5-4 walk-off win, Damon was in good spirits about the incident, and even talked about his ejection as a good thing, considering his replacement. Brett Gardner went 3-for-3 with an inside-the-park homer and finished a double short of the cycle despite entering the game in the fourth inning.

"I've known Wally for a while, and I was just fired up from the two strike-three calls," said Damon, who was also caught looking in the first inning. "But it's over with. We won, and hopefully, the strike zone's not that big again any time soon."

Manager Joe Girardi rushed onto the field to defend Damon but was too late.

"I wasn't able to get out there quick enough," Girardi said. "[But] it worked out. That's what players need to do. When you get your opportunity to play, you contribute."

It was the third ejection by a Yankee this season and the third of Damon's career (his second with New York). He was last ejected on Sept. 18, 2006, at Toronto.

In Damon's place, the Yankees moved center fielder Melky Cabrera to left field and inserted Gardner into center.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.