Ashcraft's stare-down of Yanks sets 'tone' for Reds

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NEW YORK — Graham Ashcraft and the Cincinnati Reds won a stare-down with the New York Yankees even before finishing their three-game sweep.

When the national anthem ended ahead of Thursday’s game, Ashcraft and fellow Reds pitcher Carson Spiers remained in front of the visitors dugout on the third-base side of Yankee Stadium while New York pitchers Ian Hamilton and Cody Poteet held out on the first-base side.

Their showdown extended for more than five minutes as players ignored gestures from the umpires instructing them to vacate the field so the game could begin. Ashcraft won the battle, pumping a fist and getting high-fives and cheers from teammates when he outlasted his Yankees counterparts before the Reds’ 8-4 win Thursday.

“That also set the tone,” said Spencer Steer, whose three-run homer in the fifth inning gave Cincinnati a 5-0 lead.

Steer praised Ashcraft, using the pitcher’s given first name, Douglas.

“That was pretty awesome of Doug just to kind of win that one for us and kind of give us a little edge before the first pitch,” Steer said.

All four players ignored plate umpire Alan Porter, who made a shooing motion with both hands. Porter then dispatched third-base umpire Jim Wolf to urge them off the field.

“Lucas Sims didn’t have a hat out there, so he took my hat, didn’t want to be standing there without a hat on the Fourth of July,” Spiers said, referring to another Reds pitcher. “So me being a rookie, I was standing there without a hat, whatever, looking dumb. And then, as the thing was ending, Sims was like: ‘Spiers, you got to stay here until the last one.’ So I was like, all right, whatever. I’ll stay. Sure enough, their guys stayed, too. So I was like, ‘Oh god, here I go. Like, I’m in for it a long time.’ And I saw Graham kind of slide over with me, and from there it was the long haul.”

They had a brief reprieve when Porter returned to the umpires clubhouse to retrieve a shin guard. Being a rookie making the $740,000 minimum, Spiers decided to peel off first.

“Thinking about the fine and knowing that I couldn’t afford it,” he said. So I just made a business decision.

New York’s pitchers, both on the injured list, finally walked off after manager Aaron Boone gestured for them to leave.

“A little competition within the game, I guess,” Poteet said. “That’s probably the first one I’ve ever been a part of but it took all the way to the very last bit where it’s getting close to the game starting.”

Ashcraft, in his third major league season, has a slightly higher salary at $750,000. He started and got the win in Tuesday’s series opener and wasn’t going to pitch in Thursday’s game.

“We saw they weren’t moving and one of the guys told Carson to stay, and I was like, ‘I’m staying with you because I’m not moving,'” Ashcraft said. “‘I ain’t got nothing to do today. I’m staying until I win or I get ejected or both.'”

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