Yankees’ Gary Sanchez explains why he sucker punched Miguel Cabrera

Gary Sanchez is likely facing a suspension from Major League Baseball for appearing to throw multiple punches during the first of three benches-clearing incidents with the Tigers Thursday.

Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine squared off after exchanging words as Cabrera walked to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning at Comerica Park.

Aroldis Chapman had just finished his warm-up pitches, summoned from the bullpen after Tommy Kahnle had been ejected for throwing the first pitch of the at-bat behind Cabrera’s back.

As Cabrera approached the plate, he appeared to say something to Romine, who responded and quickly whipped off his mask to continue the conversation. Cabrera then shoved him in the chest and took a swing at the catcher with his left hand before being tackled by Romine.

As players rushed the field in the brawl, Sanchez was seen on video punching Cabrera in the head as the Tigers All-Star was at the bottom of a pile of players. Sanchez then took another cheap shot at Tigers infielder Nick Castellanos, who was also pinned to the grass.

Sanchez, who was hit by Tigers starter Michael Fulmer earlier in the game, told reporters he was just trying to defend his teammates and his instincts kicked in.

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