Published August 22, 2006
TORONTO – John Gibbons and Ted Lilly exchanged words on the mound during a pitching change.
A few minutes later, the conversation between the Toronto Blue Jays manager and pitcher turned physical.
Gibbons wound up with a bloody nose after scrapping with Lilly near Toronto's dugout in the third inning of the Oakland Athletics' 12-10 victory Monday night.
Gibbons and Lilly said no punches were thrown.
"We were on the verge of something regrettable happening," Lilly said. We were yelling at each other face to face," Lilly said.
Bobby Kielty homered and drove in four runs for the AL West-leading A's, who tied an Oakland record for the biggest comeback. The Blue Jays had an 8-0 lead, but Lilly was pulled in the third inning when the Athletics scored seven runs.
Gibbons chewed out his pitcher, who refused to give him the ball.
When Lilly left the mound for the clubhouse, Gibbons followed him. A team trainer and a number of players then ran down the stairs. Cameramen near the dugout saw Gibbons push Lilly first.
Canadian Press photographer Aaron Harris, one of a handful of photographers to witness the skirmish, said Lilly was waiting for Gibbons in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.
"Gibbons just went at him," Harris said. "It looked like Gibbons grabbed him and they disappeared. Then the whole dugout emptied back there. It was mayhem down in the tunnel."
A television camera later showed Gibbons and the trainer wipe the manager's nose with a towel.
"He thought he should have been left in the game," Gibbons said of Lilly. "I didn't think so."
Gibbons met with Lilly after the game.
"We hashed it out. Everything is fine now," Gibbons said.
Gibbons said Lilly will continue to pitch for him.
In July, Gibbons challenged Shea Hillenbrand to a fight after the infielder wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking." Hillenbrand declined to fight, and was later traded to San Francisco.
"Who knows how long I have left here," said Lilly, who's eligible for free agency after this season. "Maybe a month. Maybe longer. It was a bad day. I embarrassed the organization."
Team president Paul Godfrey didn't think Gibbons or Lilly needed discipline. General manager J.P. Ricciardi didn't make himself available.
"My opinion is that it's a one-night skirmish," Godfrey said. "I don't see any need for discipline. Ted and the manager worked it out between them."
Hillenbrand had only kind words about Lilly when asked about the altercation after the Giants' 5-0 win over Arizona in San Francisco.
"Ted Lilly's a great guy. Ted Lilly's an intense competitor," Hillenbrand said. "He was a great teammate when I was over there. So I'm surprised that confrontation happened with Ted Lilly."
He added: "Stuff like that's been going on all season over there. I had my issues with the manager. ... They say I'm the cancer of the team and things are still happening, so I don't know how you can make that assumption or that statement. Things like that begin to come out when times get tough."
Dan Haren (12-9) set an Oakland record by getting the victory despite allowing nine runs. He gave up 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"It's amazing how that stuff happens," Haren said. "Momentum is an incredible thing."
Alex Rios and Troy Glaus homered for the Blue Jays.
Jason Kendall had a two-run double, and Kielty and Milton Bradley hit consecutive homers off Lilly in the third. Frank Thomas followed with a double and Jay Payton later singled, prompting an angry Gibbons to replace Lilly.
"It's a little strange to seen that happen," Oakland's Eric Chavez said of the skirmish. "I liked Ted. He was a good teammate when he was here."
Toronto reliever Jason Frasor's run-scoring wild pitch and Eric Chavez's RBI double cut it to 8-7.
Oakland scored four times in the sixth on Kielty's two-run double off Brandon League (0-1) and RBI grounders by Bradley and Thomas. Vernon Wells' RBI double cut Oakland's lead to 11-10 in the bottom half.
Payton homered in the ninth to make it 12-10. Justin Duchscherer closed for his fourth save.