Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier took a Toronto data card back to the Rays' dugout in a bizarre incident that began with a play at the plate during a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Monday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The card was pried loose from Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk's wristband during a play in which Kiermaier was tagged out at the plate on a slide.
Though Kiermaier claimed to reporters that he did not look at it, Rays manager Kevin Cash on Tuesday told reporters that he spoke to Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo about the incident, saying he was unaware of the situation and that he would speak to his players about it.
Later Tuesday, after the Blue Jays defeated the Rays 4-2 to even the series, Montoyo told reporters that Cash indeed apologized to him before the game, and that the whole situation is now "agua under the bridge." He reiterated that the two managers are friends, and then went on to talk about his club's victory, which kept Toronto in the American League's second wild-card slot, a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees.
When asked about the matter before Tuesday's game, Kiermaier told SportsNet that he didn't realize it was the Blue Jays' card when he picked it up. "I never even looked at it, I'll say that," he told the Canadian network. "But at the same time, I'm not going to drop it or hand it back."
Given the incident happened during play, it was captured by several media outlets, and video shows that, after being called out to end the inning, Kiermaier handed the card to Paul Hoover, Tampa's major league field coordinator.
SportsNet reported Toronto sent a bat boy to the Rays dugout to ask for the card's return. Tampa Bay did not send back the card, which likely included information about the Blue Jays' plans to pitch to the Rays' hitters.
Though the Rays are comfortably in first place in the American League East, the Blue Jays are in a tight battle with the Boston Red Sox and Yankees for one of those two wild-card berths. So, it's understandable to see their frustrations with such an event. On top of that, with both the Rays and Blue Jays just miles apart from each other during spring training in the Tampa Bay area -- and then division foes during the regular season -- there is a clear rivalry that exists.
That said, perhaps because they won on Tuesday, the rest of the Blue Jays seem content to talk about the playoff chase and how Toronto is surging toward the end of the season, rather than data cards. Starter Alek Manoah -- who won his seventh game of the season, helping the Blue Jays to improve to a major-league-best 16-4 in September -- had a simple answer when asked what message Toronto is sending with this finish:
"We're here," he said.
The series concludes at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.