NEW YORK — New York Yankees designated hitter Josh Donaldson ran between second and third base after Isiah Kiner-Falefa ended the third inning by flying out to right Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
That’s when Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said Donaldson “made a disrespectful comment.”
“Basically tried to call me Jackie Robinson, ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ ” Anderson said after the Sox’s 7-5 loss. “I don’t play like that.
“He made the comment and it was disrespectful. I don’t think it was called for.
“It happened the first time he got on (in the second inning) and I spared him that time. And it happened again. And it was just uncalled for.”
Two innings later the benches and bullpens cleared.
As Donaldson came to the plate in the fifth, he and Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal exchanged words. Moments later, both dugouts and bullpens emptied.
“What sparked it was a comment he made,” Grandal said. “This game went through a period of time where a lot of those comments were made and I think we’re way past that. It’s just unacceptable.
“Thought it was a low blow and I’m going to make sure I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way you’re allowed to say something like that. It’s unacceptable.”
Added Sox manager Tony La Russa: “He made a racist comment, Donaldson. And that’s all I’m going to say.”
Anderson had to be restrained by teammates José Abreu and Gavin Sheets. There were no ejections after the benches cleared.
Donaldson told New York reporters: “First inning, I called him ‘Jackie.’ Let me you give a little context. 2019, he came out with an interview that he said he was the new Jackie Robinson of baseball, he’s going to bring back fun for the game, right? In 2019 when I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that on the game. I don’t know what’s changed from (then) and I’ve said it to him from years past, not in any manner than just joking around. So the fact that he called himself Jackie Robinson.
“If something has changed from that, my meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter. It was just off of an interview of what he called himself and when we said that before, we joked about it, he laughed. As you can tell in our series that we’ve played, there are times when I’ve tried to diffuse the situation. I took responsibility for the tag (on May 13 at Guaranteed Rate Field). I wasn’t trying to do anything there. Today just trying to diffuse it like make light, like, hey, we’re not trying to start any brawls or anything like that. Obviously he deemed that it was disrespectful, and if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner.”
It was the second time this season the teams had a benches-clearing incident.
On May 13 at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Sox loaded the bases with one out in the first.
Sheets struck out and Yankees catcher Jose Trevino threw to third to try to get Anderson. The shortstop made it safely by diving, but Donaldson, playing third, tried to nudge him off the base.
The benches and bullpens briefly cleared.
Anderson appreciated the support from his teammates.
“We’re a family here,” Anderson said. “We take care of each other. It’s all love in our locker room. We don’t really deal with crazy things like that. We try to keep that away from our vibes and what’s going on. It shows how connected we are.”
Added Grandal: “I’m sure any other team would have reacted the same way. Like I said, a comment like that is just unacceptable. It should not be allowed. I’m sure, not only us, but anybody else would have reacted the same way. Maybe even worse.”
When the game resumed, reliever Reynaldo López struck out Donaldson. The Sox trailed 6-3 at the time. They pulled within a run at 6-5 but couldn’t complete the comeback to fall in the opener of the three-game series.
The Yankees scored five runs in the second against starter Dallas Keuchel, with DJ LeMahieu’s two-out grand slam to right serving as the big hit.
Keuchel allowed six runs on six hits with three walks (one intentional) and no strikeouts in four innings.
Yankees starter Nestor Cortes allowed three runs on six hits (two from Anderson) with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings. Abreu hit a three-run homer off Cortes with two outs in the third.
The Sox scored twice against reliever Michael King in the sixth. Leury García had an RBI double and scored on a Josh Harrison double to cut the Yankees lead to 6-5.
The Yankees responded with a run in the sixth and held on for the win, their fourth victory in five meetings against the Sox.