NEW YORK — Ron Gardenhire had seen enough.
"I said my piece and I got dejected, and then ejected," the Minnesota Twins manager said.
After watching Denard Span get tossed by by plate umpire Greg Gibson in the third inning Tuesday night, Gardenhire accompanied his center fielder to the clubhouse for the remainder of what turned into an 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
With the score 1-1, a runner on first and one out, Span took a called strike from CC Sabathia on a pitch that appeared to be inside.
Span stepped behind the batter's box and exchanged words with Gibson. When Span got back in the box, he kept talking and was tossed.
"There was a disagreement on a strike call and he raised his voice at me and I didn't take too kindly in that," Span said. "But I let him get the best of me and me being in here, I wasn't able to help my teammates. It's too bad it had to result in that because I've got to be on the field. I've got to be smarter than that and stay in the game for my teammates."
Gibson wouldn't get into the exchange.
"That's between the (commissioner's) office and the umpires," he said. "All that will go into a report."
Span also wouldn't give exact details.
"I didn't cuss at him one time. I didn't swear. I didn't yell at him. After he threw me out, then I started yelling, but not one word came out of my mouth that was a cuss word," he said. "It went from level 1 to level 10 in about two seconds, and I just wondered what the heck is going on."
It was the 61st ejection for Gardenhire and the second for Span.
Clete Thomas batted for Span, and following a balk by Sabathia doubled for a 2-1 lead. Jamey Carroll followed with an RBI single but Joe Mauer struck out and left fielder Brett Gardner ran in to make a diving catch on Josh Willingham that ended the inning.
That started a stretch of 13 outs in a row by Sabathia (1-0), who didn't give up another hit. He allowed three runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Sabathia is 18-14 through April in a dozen major league seasons, including 7-4 since joining the Yankees in 2009. During the rest of the regular season he's 169-82.
"It's just one of those things," he said.
Backup catcher Chris Stewart had three RBIs for the Yankees, including a two-run single in a four-run third that put them ahead 4-3.
Francisco Liriano (0-2) allowed five runs, seven hits and four walks in 2 1-3 innings.
"Nothing is bothering me. I'm 100 percent healthy," he said. "I'm just missing my spots and pitching behind the count and you get hurt, especially with hitters like that."
Liriano has not won since beating the Yankees on Aug. 20 and has an 11.91 ERA this year.
"It's a kid's game and you've got to play it like a kid, and you can't put too much pressure on yourself. The weight of the world is not on your shoulder," Gardenhire remembered telling Liriano. "I just want him to relax and have a smile on his face and have some fun playing this game."
A night after winning the opener of the four-game series, the Twins got off to a promising star when Willingham homered into Monument Park in center leading off the second. He became the first Minnesota player to start the season with an 11-game hitting streak since Jacque Jones in 2002.
But Liriano let this one get away. He threw just 37 of 76 pitches for strikes.
"Baseball's a long season. He's not off to a great start. No one wants to do better than Frankie, but in order to get that confidence going, you've got to go out there and remember what it was like to be a young kid playing the game of baseball," Gardenhire said. "He's trying to do so many things, and that's what happens in this game when you're forcing it. It never works."
NOTES: Minnesota will recall RHP Jason Marquis from New Britain (EL) to start Wednesday against Hideki Kuroda (1-1). ... Mauer was at DH for the second straight game. A night after playing the field for the first time this season, Justin Morneau (6 for 43 (.140) vs. Sabathia), did not play. ... Minnesota dropped to 8-34 at Yankee Stadium, including the playoffs, since Gardenhire became manager in 2002. ... Twins RHP Scott Baker had elbow-ligament replacement surgery. Baker originally was to have an operation to repair the flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow. The Twins said that when New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek operated, he determined Baker's ulnar collateral ligament needed to be replaced.