Nobody won the brawl, but Yankees and Gary Sanchez lost

Girardi criticizes umpires, Ausmus (1:38)

Joe Girardi vents about perceived inconsistencies from umpires in Thursday's game vs. the Tigers, adding that he did not like how Brad Ausmus spoke to Yankees' players. (1:38)

DETROIT -- The Motor City Baseball Brawl will probably end up a more entertaining main event than Mayweather-McGregor. For four hours, it was fastballs and right hooks. There was an actual fight, but no knockouts.

And there was one loser on the afternoon. It was by decision. New York Yankees All-Star Gary Sanchez's decision.

After Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera instigated the brawl with Yankees backup catcher Austin Romine, both benches cleared in the sixth inning. The smart move, particularly for someone of Sanchez’s growing stature, is to be involved, but not too involved. At the least, don’t throw fists.

But there was Sanchez, as the pile moved onto the infield, throwing punches at a defenseless Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos. It is going to cost Sanchez games. Maybe five. Maybe 10. You can give or take on those numbers, but Sanchez will be suspended. Sanchez made a bad decision.

The excuses that Sanchez and his manager, Joe Girardi, made for him are valid. It is easy from a press box to tell someone how to react when he is in the middle of a fight.

“It is hard, because everything is happening very fast,” Sanchez said.

No doubt that is the case. A lot had to be swirling inside his head. Sanchez had taken a fastball in the hip in the fifth inning from Michael Fulmer. An inning earlier, he had taken Fulmer deep. It was Sanchez’s 11th homer this month and fourth in these three games at Comerica Park.

The fact that Fulmer was not even warned was a mistake by the umpiring crew, led by crew chief Dana DeMuth, and it was the opening bell for the fight. When Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle decided to throw behind Cabrera, he was thrown out. Girardi -- mad that Fulmer wasn’t warned and his pitcher was tossed -- was irate and kicked dirt like a 2-year-old, as managers are wont to do. He was sent packing, too.

That should have been it, really. Both sides had their say, but Cabrera wanted the final word in the way of some punches. Cabrera asked Romine if the Yankees' backup catcher had a problem with him, Romine said. Romine responded that it wasn’t about Cabrera. That was unsatisfactory to Cabrera, whose version of the events was different, as he said Romine swore at him.

Cabrera pushed Romine and threw a punch. They wrestled to the ground and, as far as baseball fights go, the entertainment was turned up high. Then Sanchez stepped in from the side.

“It got to the heat of the moment, and boys are going to be boys in the heat of the moment,” Girardi said.

This admittedly was not a grab a partner and do-si-do event. But Sanchez decided to go all-in. When Cabrera and Castellanos were on the ground, smothered, Sanchez took shots. It was uncalled-for and cheap. It will be costly.

The Yankees are fighting to stay in contention in the American League East. On top of that, they are attempting to maintain their lead in the AL wild-card race. While catching the Boston Red Sox will take quite a run, blowing a wild-card spot would be an epic failure. It seems unlikely the Yankees will do that.

However, the way you can crack that door open for the middling AL teams trying to crawl into the one-game shootout is by losing your best hitter, particularly when he is crushing the ball. Sanchez is hitting nearly a home run every other day. His 11 homers this month matches his number for August 2016, when he had his epic run as a rookie. The 24-year-old is carrying the Yankees. He is the guy the Yankees can’t afford to lose right now.

But Sanchez is going to be given a timeout. The whole day was a loss for the Yankees, who went down 10-6. But when you think about Girardi’s pet phrase -- “It’s not what you want” -- it most applies to Sanchez’s punches. He lost his cool, and now he is going to lose games.