Yankees fans got to see a side of closer Mariano Rivera they've never seen in his 17-year Yankee career. After a debated home run was allowed, Rivera blew a gasket and had to be blocked from charging from the dugout.
At the center of the outburst was a Kansas City Royals fly ball that hit the top of a fence and was ruled a home-run. Rivera wasn't even on the mound and was watching the play from the Yankees clubhouse before he saw red.
It looked like Rivera got upset at the umpiring crew-- with good reason-- after they conferred on the controversial home-run, and opted not to overturn the call. This was a side of the usually stoic Rivera that fans never see-- the emotional side. If it was rare to see the always composed Rivera blow a couple of games last week it was even more unique to watch the 41 year-old Rivera lose his cool for a couple of minutes last night.
Last week, fans saw the infrequent failures of Rivera in a few consecutive set-backs-- or blips as Manager Joe Girardi calls them-- in the closer's march to the Hall of Fame.
Rivera was tagged for a blown save, a loss and a scare in successive games in relief. It had Yankees fans wondering if the reliable closer was slipping. Through it all, Rivera never showed any emotion-- as is his usual modus operandi on the mound.
While the outburst may have been out of character for Rivera, his intensity was not.
In the bottom of the third inning of the Yankees/ Royals game at Kauffman Stadium, Royals DH Billy Butler lofted a fly ball which bounced off the top of the padded wall in left-center but clearly didn't go over an eight-inch railing behind it. Rightfielder Brett Gardner played the ball like it was a double.
After the initial call and protest by Girardi, second-base umpire Dana DeMuth summoned the other umpires and reviewed the play. Replays showed the ball hitting the top of the pad but bouncing off the fencing which connected the railing and wall-- which means the ball is still in play.
The umpires stuck by the initial ruling and gave Butler his 15th homer of the season and the Royals a 4-2 lead. This prompted Girardi to approach the umpires again to no avail. As the Yankees manager approached the dugout, Rivera could be seen being held back by coach Tony Pena and then Girardi himself.
The irate Rivera looked like he was ready to bolt through the dugout rail. His laser like-glare alone could have cut the metal pipe.
Meanwhile, Butler grinned like he just got away with murder and paced in the Royals dugout waiting to see if he would have to take second base.
Butler's solo-shot would prove costly as Yankees starter, Bartolo Colon, was roughed up for five runs in five innings including the controversial home-run.
Alex Gordon tagged Colon for a three-run homer earlier in the third inning and the Yankees ended up losing 5-4 with the bases loaded and Jorge Posada called out looking.
Derek Jeter went 4-for-5 but was caught stealing right before Curtis Granderson smacked his 34th home-run in the first.
The Yankees still held a 1/2 game lead over the Boston Red Sox, who lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.
After the game, Girardi said he would not file a protest with the league. DeMuth had no comment.