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bad blood

The Yankees and Tigers Are Ready to Rumble

"With karate I'll kick your ass ... "

These things don't always play out exactly as you'd expect, but the Yankees and Tigers have certainly laid the groundwork for a bench-clearing of some sort in this afternoon's game. In chronological order: Brett Gardner slid hard into Carlos Guillen two nights ago in an attempt to break up a double play, landing Guillen on the disabled list and prompting Johnny Damon to call the slide "dirty." Then last night, Jeremy Bonderman hit Gardner with his first pitch, prompting warnings to both benches. And then, in the eighth inning, Chad Gaudin drilled Miguel Cabrera, who'd homered twice. (For good measure, Enrique Gonzalez threw behind Derek Jeter a half-inning later.)

Gaudin wasn't ejected, and in arguing that decision — it's the umpire's discretion whether to eject a pitcher in such circumstances — Jim Leyland got tossed himself. Of course, everyone is pleading innocence, though that's not surprising, since the only acceptable answers to the question "Did you intentionally bean that batter?" are "no" and "next question."

The Yankees won the game 9-5, by the way, though Boston and Tampa Bay won, as well. Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back (and, you know, belly-to-belly) home runs. (Teixeira's plated Gardner, on base thanks to Bonderman's beanball.) Curtis Granderson hit another home run, once again making Kevin Long, who recently revamped his swing, look awfully smart. And the middle relief — slowly becoming something of a strength, if an occasionally terrifying one — pitched into and out of a couple of jams.

Today's game begins in about twenty minutes. And we learned last year that the Yankees are willing to throw down if necessary, even late in the season. So stay tuned.

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Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images