NEW YORK -- As soon as New York catcher Jorge Posada bumped Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson after crossing home plate, almost everyone at Yankee Stadium knew a fight was coming.
Posada and Carlson got into a scrap near the New York dugout, leading to a frenzied, bench-clearing brawl during the Blue Jays' 10-4 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night.
"It got pretty heavy and pretty thick pretty quickly," said New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez. "I think we're all fortunate and glad no one got hurt."
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and all-star second baseman Aaron Hill were hit by pitches before Carlson threw behind Posada in the eighth inning. Posada glared out at the mound and appeared to say, "You don't want to do that."
Carlson motioned toward Posada as the benches and bullpens emptied, though the teams never got close to each other and order was quickly restored. Johnny Damon and manager Joe Girardi aggressively pulled teammates away, aware an injury or suspension could be costly to the Yankees as they close in on a playoff berth. Plate umpire Jim Joyce warned both benches.
But moments later, a nasty rumble broke out.
After scoring on Brett Gardner's double, Posada jostled Carlson, who was on his way to back up the plate. Joyce promptly ejected Posada as Carlson shouted curses at the star catcher.
"As he ran past Carlson, he gave him a little shove with his elbow. It was very unsportsmanlike," Joyce told a pool reporter. "It was a cheap shot."
Posada spun around, sidestepped Joyce and came back at Carlson, who took a high swing with a punch that missed. The two wrestled to the ground as the benches and bullpens emptied and other scuffles broke out near home plate.
"He was just right there on the line to the dugout. We got carried away and hopefully that's the end of it," the 38-year-old Posada said. "I don't want my kids to see that. ... Fight in the middle of the field, benches clearing -- that's a bad example."
Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas and Yankees reserve Shelley Duncan got in a particularly rough tussle.
"Once he crossed the plate and threw that elbow at me or whatever, I just said, 'Let's go,"' Carlson said. "I'm probably the smallest guy in MLB and we were right near their dugout, so I was just hoping I got out of there all right."
When things finally settled down, there was catching equipment strewn all over the field behind home plate. New York pitchers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte escorted Posada into the dugout.
The six-foot-one, 160-pound Carlson, also ejected, was left with a large red knot on the left side of his forehead.
"We were wrestling or whatever and we both went down to the ground. We were kind of right near their dugout and kind of got trampled on for a little bit. I was trying to cover up and I'm not sure who it was, but somebody moved my hands out of the way and got in a shot," Carlson said. "I'm fine. It doesn't even hurt."
Carlson declined to apologize and said he didn't throw at Posada intentionally.
"It was a fastball in and I yanked it. Just a bad pitch," he said.
Once umpires review the tape and report to Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson, Posada and Carlson are likely to be suspended and fined. Perhaps others, too.
"I don't know if that was too smart. They have a lot more to lose than we do," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.
Girardi appeared to get hit in the face with a fist from Toronto infielder John McDonald as he lunged into the scrum. Afterward, the manager had a little scratch on the left side of his face near his eye.
"It's all right. I don't think anyone was trying to hit me," Girardi said, adding that he spoke to his team after the game about focusing on the pennant race. "I thought the umpires did a good job, pulling people off, but it's hard when people have 35-man rosters and they're running in from all directions."
McDonald said he didn't throw a punch at Girardi.
The game was interrupted for about 10 minutes. When play resumed, there were only three umpires on the field. During the fight, third base ump and crew chief Derryl Cousins was hit in the knee by a bottle full of soda that he said was thrown from the stands.
"Doctor checked it out. Nothing is broken. There's going to be a bruise. It's just painful," Cousins said.
Early on, Roy Halladay (15-9) stymied the Yankees and rookie Travis Snider hit two of Toronto's five homers. New York's lead in the American League East was cut to 6 1/2 games over Boston, which beat the Los Angeles Angels.
The Yankees' magic number for clinching a playoff spot is six.
Adam Lind and Encarnacion also connected off Yankees starter Sergio Mitre (3-3).
Notes: Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 earned-run average in his career against the Yankees. ... Lind and Encarnacion also homered Monday in Detroit.