On a day of miscues and muffed plays, one scary moment stood out.
Rookie Randy Ruiz hit an RBI single during an eight-run fifth, then was struck in the face by a pitch later in the inning as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 14-8 on Sunday.
His left cheek swollen and his lip bloodied, Ruiz was checked out by doctors at the stadium. He did not suffer a concussion and had no vision problems.
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“When I was spitting blood, I thought I probably broke my nose,” Ruiz said. “After a while, when I looked in the mirror, I thought, ‘Ah, my face is swollen. I’m fine now.’ Nothing growing up in New York City that I haven’t experienced.”
Ruiz joined the growing list of hitters to recently get beaned. Down for a few minutes after being hit by Josh Towers, Ruiz walked off the field without assistance and left the game.
“It is scary, but it’s part of the game,” Ruiz said. “I didn’t think he did it on purpose, we were both battling. I was fortunate.”
“Hopefully I’ll be in the lineup (Monday),” Ruiz said. “I’m ready.”
Towers had not pitched in the major leagues since Sept. 30, 2007, for Toronto against Tampa Bay. He was called up from Triple-A on Saturday, and acknowledged being shaken after hitting Ruiz.
“I was talking to (first baseman Mark Teixeira) and I told him after that happened it was hard for me to go inside to righties,” Towers said. “Being aware of it, I still cut the ball going inside because I was conscious of what happened and I didn’t want to have that happen again.”
Aaron Hill doubled twice and drove in three runs. The AL East-leading Yankees made a season-high four errors, and outfielders Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera collided while making a catch – both emerged OK and Damon was able to see the funny side.
“I think I might have knocked some power into him,” Damon joked. “He came up the next time and hit a home run.”
Manager Joe Girardi found it harder to smile.
“It’s not Yankee baseball,” Girardi said. “It’s not what we’ve done all year.”
Derek Jeter had three hits, and is four away from breaking the Yankees record held by Lou Gehrig (2,721).
“I’m just trying to get a hit, like always,” Jeter said. “I’m not really thinking about it right now. Maybe when I get up to the last one. Right now, it’s not like I’m trying to get more hits.”
Ruiz, making his first career start at first base, batted with the bases loaded in the fifth inning after Towers relieved Mark Melancon. Towers threw an 0-2 pitch that struck Ruiz in the cheek.
Ruiz fell forward on his knees, holding his head. Trainer George Poulis and manager Cito Gaston rushed to Ruiz’s side, and team physician Dr. Ron Taylor also tended to him.
“He had his hand up around his eye when I got out there so I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I hope he’s OK,”‘ Gaston said. “Here’s a kid that’s really trying to establish himself and play in the big leagues for a while and you hate to see that happen to him.”
After a few minutes, Ruiz stood up, walked off and left the game.
Later Sunday, Cincinnati reliever Micah Owings was hit in the helment by a pitch at Atlanta. David Wright, Scott Rolen and Marco Scutaro are among other major leaguers to get hit in the head by pitches in recent weeks.
Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer, but also lost a fly ball in the sun. Cabrera hit a three-run homer, and also held on to a fly ball after running into Damon.
The Yankees‘ infield was especially sloppy – Teixeira misplayed a grounder at first, and third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., second Robinson Cano and backup shortstop Ramiro Pena all made throwing errors.
Brian Tallet (6-9) won for the first time since June 23, allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Making his first start since Aug. 29, when he was knocked out of the game after taking a liner off his forearm, right-hander Sergio Mitre (3-2) allowed 11 runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings. Two of the runs were unearned.
Swisher made up for his miscue in the fifth with a two-run homer for a 5-4 lead. Of his 24 home runs this season, 21 have come on the road.
The Blue Jays broke open the game with eight runs in the fifth. Ruiz tied it with an RBI single, Travis Snider and Joe Inglett also singled home runs and Hill chased Mitre with a bases-loaded walk.
Mark Melancon came on and walked Adam Lind on four pitches, bringing home another run, then left for Towers after an RBI single by Wells and a bases-loaded walk to Encarnacion. The final run came when Towers beaned Ruiz.
New York RHP Mariano Rivera did not pitch Sunday but was declared ready to return from a sore groin. Rivera last pitched Tuesday at Baltimore.