NEW YORK — Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo was hit by a baseball thrown by a fan at Yankee Stadium, leading to a heated exchange between the outfielder and spectators as well as a halt to play prior to the bottom of the sixth inning of a 3-1 Yankees win.
The game was tied, 1-1, after the Red Sox had left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, a half-inning that ended in its own controversy when first-base umpire Manny Gonzalez ruled that Christian Vázquez had failed to check his swing, thus striking out to leave the bases loaded. The Red Sox dugout erupted, and bench coach Wil Venable and catcher Kevin Plawecki were both ejected.
Verdugo said prior to the bottom of the sixth, he tried to throw the ball he used to warm up to a young Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan caught it.
“I was going back to try to get ready for the pitch to be delivered and I hear, ‘Throw it back,’” Verdugo said. “I’m in my stance getting ready and I take a peek, and as I look back, I see the ball heading down and then it hits me in my back.”
Incensed, Verdugo turned to the stands and had a heated exchange with some of the fans. Red Sox teammates and members of the umpiring crew sprinted to left field to pull Verdugo, who chatted amiably with antagonistic Yankees fans during Boston’s last trip to Yankee Stadium, away from the stands behind the left field scoreboard.
They were soon joined by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who waved his players off the field. An exchange between Cora and the umpiring crew of roughly four minutes followed before the Red Sox returned to the field.
“I know my left fielder. I know Alex,” Cora said. “He needed time to breathe and to get his thoughts. It seemed like nobody was listening to me. You never know. What if he jumps the fence? What if he goes up there?”
“There’s no reason to be throwing stuff back onto the field ever. There really isn’t,” Verdugo said. “Yeah, I lost my cool there for a second. I was pretty [angry]. But having some time to think about it now, to calm down and relax, it is what it is. I’m just happy that nothing came from it, nobody got hurt, I didn’t get hit in the face or anything like that, or the back of the head.”
No further incidents involving projectiles occurred during the bottom of the sixth — in which the Yankees hit a pair of solo homers, the winning margin when the game was halted after the inning — but fans in left did chant profanely at the Red Sox left fielder.
The fan was located and ejected, according to the New York Post.