The competitive portion of last night’s game effectively ended when Baltimore Orioles’ starter Kevin Gausman was ejected in the top of the second inning. Gausman hit Boston’s Bogaerts with a first pitch curveball (at 77 MPH), and was promptly thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Gausman’s final line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K.
Yes folks, Bogaerts came around to score – on Rutledge’s RBI-single later in the inning. Two innings later they would take a 2-0 lead on Young’s RBI-double. Boston would also net two more runs that inning on a fielder’s choice, as well as Pedroia’s sac fly-RBI.
The O’s would make an attempt to get back into the game, which incidentally would have been impossible without relievers Richard Bleier and Ubaldo Jimenez (obviously a starter who was pressed into a relief role due to the circumstance at hand) holding things where they were. As much as you might want to say about Jimenez over time, he pitched three innings of shutout baseball and was very effective out of the bullpen.
The Birds got a sac fly-RBI out of Mancini, and an RBI-single from Hardy in the sixth. But 4-2 was as close as they were going to get on this night. And make no mistake that it was almost entirely marred by poor decisions by the home plate umpire.
Earlier in the day yesterday MLB held a conference call with both managers and both GM’s, hoping to clear the air. It was made very clear that the theatrics needed to stop, along with the fact that no warnings would be issued prior to last night’s game. The league said that nobody (including the umpires) would come into the game walking on eggshells.
Apparently Sam Holbrook didn’t get that memo. Furthermore, it was plainly evident that he was going to eject anyone who hit a batter – warning or not. If you’re going to throw a purpose pitch, you do it with a fastball. Gausman’s 77 MPH curveball was clearly a pitch that slipped, and according to multiple reports the ejection surprised Boston as much as it did the Orioles.
Catcher Caleb Joseph was LIVID, and he made his displeasure known to Holbrook immediately, along with Gausman. The mannerisms that Joseph showed were well beyond the line of acceptability, and the fact that he wasn’t tossed out also tells me that Holbrook knew he made a mistake. Once he made it out to home plate manager Buck Showalter shoved both Gausman and Joseph out of the way and continued the argument.
To make matters worse, Adam Jones was ejected in the fifth after striking out. The point of contention there was on a called strike two, which first off appeared to be high. However the real issue was that Holbrook seemed to stop and think about the pitch for approximately three or four seconds before deciding it was a strike. After a swinging third strike, Jones appeared to mumble his continual displeasure as he headed back to the dugout. For that, Holbrook issued Jones his first career ejection.
For the record, Jones didn’t turn around and confront Holbrook (until being tossed), and he didn’t show him up. So for the second time in the game, Buck Showalter found himself arguing at home plate about a player that was unjustly tossed. So if you’re keeping score at home, the Orioles lost their starter (compounding their pitching situation for today), AND their unofficial team captain. Both were ejected for what appeared to be illegitimate reasons.
Jimenez was tonight’s scheduled starter, but he was used in relief last night, so the Orioles have to figure out what they’re going to do. I suspect they have a plan, but it hasn’t been announced as of yet. This also has reverberations as the Orioles go onward into their schedule, as summed up afterwards by Caleb Joseph (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
The reason that I got so upset is because yes, the in-game decision is very important, but there’s ripples we’re going to have to deal with for the next five, six, seven days. We had to cover (seven) innings in the bullpen and that’s huge. That can set a team back five or six days. Sam’s a fine guy, a good umpire, but tonight he missed a call. He missed a call, and what I would like to see, and we see it all the time with umpires, if they’re unsure, they gather together.
Here’s the other thing; make no mistake about the fact that this occurred because of the theatrics caused mainly by Boston people over the past two weeks. I say Boston people because it’s not just the Red Sox and the way they’ve behaved on the field. It’s also some of the Boston media, who have acted as cheerleaders towards the hometown team and encouraged this to continue. (Now in fairness, my understanding is that the New England Sports Network’s announcers were adamant last night that the Gausman ejection was a miscarriage of justice.)
So the theatrics were caused and carried on by Boston. But in the end, it’s the Orioles who have had to pay the price for it. Granted Boston did lose a reliever for four games, but this is something that will affect the Orioles for days to come. And as I said, the competitive portion of the game ended when Gausman was ejected. At that point the Orioles all but forfeited the game.
The series mercifully concludes tonight at Fenway Park, and don’t be surprised if Buck Showalter gets tossed for arguing that any Boston pitcher who hits a batsman should be ejected. The Orioles haven’t yet announced a starter, however Boston is throwing Kyle Kendrick. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.