NEW YORK – In the top of the third inning, Josh Donaldson struck out swinging and, in frustration, whipped his bat as he entered the Toronto Blue Jays dugout. Manager John Gibbons didn’t like that, words were exchanged and Troy Tulowitzki was among those to step between the two fiery men.
“Gibby asked me what kind of cologne I was wearing, and I said, ‘It’s this new cologne called Tom Ford, I just got it,’” said Donaldson. “He’s like, ‘Really,’ so he kind of got close to me to get a good whiff of it, and I was like, ‘Hey man, back up.’ I was like, ‘I’ll give you some after the game.’ So then we separated.”
Said Gibbons: “I told him after that first at-bat, get a new bat, that one ain’t working. Took the same one up there the second time, that didn’t work so he chose to break it. I went down and told him, ‘You should have listened to me.’ That was basically it. No big deal.”
We’ll see about that, but in the fifth inning, when Donaldson scored on a Russell Martin RBI single, Gibbons greeted him with a low-five at the dugout entrance, so their working relationship didn’t seem too badly damaged.
Rather, the prime cause for concern came in the sixth inning of a 7-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday afternoon, when Donaldson jammed his right thumb on a roller to second, walked slowly back to the dugout, and left the game.
Precautionary X-rays were negative and Donaldson said the damage this time isn’t as severe as it was in early June in Boston, when he missed one game with the same injury. The Blue Jays certainly need that to hold true, as they’re already down Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar, who are both on the mend, and aren’t in position to lose the reigning American League MVP.
Good thing for them Thursday is an off-day before the start of three games in Cleveland on Friday.
“[CC Sabathia] got me pretty good,” said Donaldson. “I didn’t want to do any further damage than I already did and possibly getting jammed further, a second or third time and having to miss more time than I need to. … Normally my body recovers pretty well so hopefully we’ll take care of it [Thursday], get some treatment done, and then we’ll see if I can play Friday.”
Another strong game at the plate in support of another solid outing from J.A. Happ – who allowed four runs over 7.1 innings to become the first 17-game winner in the majors – ensured a happy send-off from the Bronx.
Roberto Osuna delivered a four-out save before a crowd of 37,736 to close out a series win that started with a troubling 1-0 loss and 14 straight innings without a run. Then came a 42-minute rain delay Tuesday night and the Blue Jays erased a 6-0 deficit en route to a 12-6 win.
“[Tuesday] night was big for us,” said Donaldson. “The rain delay gave us a chance to regroup a little bit, we really came out with good intensity, and it carried over to today.”
This time, they didn’t need to rally, jumping Sabathia for three runs in the second on an Ezequiel Carrera RBI double and a two-run double by Darwin Barney.
The Yankees pulled within one on solo shots by Gary Sanchez – who wore out the Blue Jays in this series – in the second and Starlin Castro in the fourth, before a four-run fifth broke things open.
Martin’s RBI single that scored Donaldson made it 4-2 before Melvin Upton Jr.’s first homer with the Blue Jays, a three-run shot, essentially put things away.
“This is a great-hitting group,” said Upton. “You’re always in a ballgame, no matter what the score is. So it feels good to join in.”
Happ allowed another solo shot to Chase Headley in the sixth, and left after a one-out single by the third baseman in the eighth. Joaquin Benoit surrendered a two-out RBI single to Aaron Judge before Osuna shut it down.
“I gave up the three solos, but if you can limit them to solos you give yourself a chance,” said Happ. “That’s what happened today.”
Donaldson threw his bat after a three-pitch strikeout in the third, and Gibbons quickly turned and said something about it by the bat rack. Donaldson replied and they went back and forth before Tulowitzki, Josh Thole and Justin Smoak stepped between them, and calm was restored.
Such moments aren’t atypical over the course of a long season, but they rarely happen publicly.
They’ll both have an off-day to get over it, although video of the exchange is sure to provide ample fodder to keep the news-cycle churning. The more critical issue, however, is whether the pain in Donaldson’s thumb will dissipate as quickly as any hurt feelings did.