The Yanks' 10-4 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium was almost an afterthought following a benches-clearing melee that sparked when Jorge Posada made physical contact with Blue Jays reliever Jesse Carlson while scoring on Brett Gardner's double in the eighth inning.
Earlier in the game, two Toronto batters had been hit by Yankees hurlers, leading Carlson to retaliate by firing a fastball behind Posada. Both benches and bullpens briefly cleared as home-plate umpire Jim Joyce warned the clubs, restoring order.
It wouldn't last. Posada worked a walk and moved to second base on a Robinson Cano single, and with the Blue Jays well ahead, Gardner connected for what appeared to be an inconsequential run-scoring double.
As Posada came home, he crossed paths with Carlson -- who was backing up the play near the first-base dugout -- and threw an elbow in the pitcher's direction. Carlson immediately began barking, and a melee ensued that saw both Posada and Carlson ejected and possibly facing suspensions.
"It was really something that shouldn't happen. We got carried away," Posada said. "I don't want my kids to see that. Hopefully they won't. Benches clearing, fighting in the middle of the field. It's not a good example."
Seeing their high-priced talent scuffle gave the Yankees -- seemingly playoff bound, holding a 6 1/2-game lead in the American League East -- reason to pause. Girardi said he addressed the issue with his club after the game.
"We've already had a discussion," Girardi said. "I told them, there is a lot at stake here and we can't afford to get anyone hurt or lose anyone or get people suspended. We can't do that."
"They certainly have a lot more to lose than we do," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "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."
Major League Baseball will review the incident, and Posada said that he hoped he would avoid disciplinary action, saying that he "didn't start anything." The Yankees were hoping that the Blue Jays would allow the issue to die.
"What's done is done," Nick Swisher said. "It's over and done with. You want to get out of those things and make sure no one is hurt. Both sides seemed like everybody was OK, so we just move on."
"You definitely don't ever want it to happen," Johnny Damon said. "We know they were protecting their hitters. It's one of those unfortunate things in baseball. Fortunately our team came out all right."
Except for the outcome of the game. New York's third loss in its past five contests came as right-hander Sergio Mitre served up a career-high four home runs, including two to Jays No. 9 hitter Travis Snider.
Snider belted the first of his round-trippers in the third inning, a long two-run blast that landed in the second deck in right field. Snider then hit one even further in the fourth inning, a solo shot.
Mitre also allowed solo home runs to Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion in five-plus innings, charged with seven runs on eight hits as the Blue Jays covered up a shaky opening from the normally-dominant Roy Halladay.
"His sinker wasn't really sinking a whole lot tonight," Girardi said of Mitre. "His ball was kind of flat. He was up in the zone. ...
"You're hoping you can get some distance out of him, because we probably don't have Ace [Alfredo Aceves] for the next couple of days. It didn't work out."
After being one-hit by Halladay on Sept. 4, the Yankees touched the right-hander more regularly, coming through with 11 hits -- including RBI singles in the second inning off the bats of Gardner and Derek Jeter.
A potential third Yankees run was cut down at the plate in the third inning, as Jose Bautista launched a strong throw from right field to nail Alex Rodriguez attempting to score on a Hideki Matsui single.
The Yankees were not able to add more against Halladay, who scattered the 11 hits over six innings, walking one and striking out six to improve to 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 37 career games (35 starts) against the Bombers.
Carlson's pitch behind Posada was spurred by a pair of hit-by-pitches earlier in the game. Mitre drilled Encarnacion on the left shoulder in the fifth inning, and rookie Mark Melancon hit Aaron Hill in the back with a two-seam fastball in the eighth inning.
Melancon said that there had been no intent on the pitch, though he has had similar trouble in his brief big league career. The Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia was buzzed and drilled by Melancon in an Aug. 6 game at Yankee Stadium, and he had harsh words for the New York right-hander.
"Both of those situations, there's no reason to hit a guy," Melancon said. "That just goes to show you that my command has been bad. That's why I don't understand. My command has just been poor lately, and that's something that will change soon."