SEPTEMBER 24: Borucki’s suspension was reduced to two games on appeal. He’ll miss Toronto’s next two games in Minnesota.
SEPTEMBER 23: Major League Baseball has suspended Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki for three games “for intentionally hitting Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays with a pitch during the bottom of the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game at Tropicana Field.” Borucki has also received an undisclosed fine. He is appealing the suspension, so he’ll remain on the active roster until that appeal is heard.
As is typical, Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo has been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for Borucki’s actions. Montoyo will serve his ban tonight, missing this evening’s game against the Twins.
With the Rays leading last night’s game 7-1, Borucki hit Kiermaier in the back with a first-pitch fastball. Benches cleared, and Borucki was ejected by third base umpire Joe West after the fracas was sorted out. After the game, Borucki denied that he hit Kiermaier intentionally, claiming that the ball slipped out of his hand (via ESPN).
The incident came just two days after Kiermaier was at the center of controversy between the two clubs. During Monday’s game, Kiermaier was thrown out at home plate attempting to score on a Jake Lamb throwing error. The play ended the inning and the Blue Jays departed the field. While sitting next to home plate, Kiermaier picked up a gameplan card that had been dropped by Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk (video via Arash Madani of Sportsnet). Kiermaier took the card back to the Tampa Bay dugout.
It’s not clear whether Kiermaier was aware of what was on the card at the time he picked it up. After the game, the Rays center fielder told reporters he initially believed it to be his own gameplan card, which he keeps in his pocket during games to aid his positioning on defense. Kiermaier refused to return the card to the Blue Jays once he realized its contents, upsetting some in the Toronto organization. That bad blood seemingly carried over into Wednesday’s game.
The Rays and Jays are not scheduled to play one another again this season, but it’s possible they’ll play meet in the playoffs. Tampa Bay enters play tonight with a two and a half game advantage over the Astros for the top seed in the American League. If they hold onto that position, they’ll face the winner of the AL Wild Card game in their Division Series. Toronto trails the Yankees by half a game in the race for the final AL Wild Card spot.