Bad blood with ump? Cabrera, Leyland tossed
DETROIT – Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera didn’t heed the warning of home plate umpire Chad Fairchild, and was ejected Sunday for disputing a second consecutive called strike with the bases loaded.
Fairfield also quickly tossed Tigers manager Jim Leyland for his spirited protest.
There’s some bad blood between the Tigers and Fairchild, who on July 11 also ejected Leyland after tossing Detroit reliever Luke Putkonen for throwing a pitch behind Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Those are Leyland’s lone ejections this season.
“I called strike one and he began to argue balls and strikes,” Fairchild said of Cabrera. “I warned him to stop. But after the second pitch, he began to argue balls and strikes again, and was removed from the game.”
It was Cabrera’s first ejection since arguing balls and strikes with umpire Tim Timmons on Sept. 8, 2012.
After taking the second called strike in the third inning, Cabrera looked away from Fairchild and appeared to mutter, “That’s (blanking) horrible, bro.”
Asked if that was an accurate quoting of Cabrera, Fairchild said, “He was removed from the game for arguing balls and strikes. What exactly he said will be in our report.”
Cabrera, asked for what he said to Fairchild, said, “That’s horrible.”
He also appeared to use an obscenity that will get players thrown out, but Cabrera didn’t get angry or demonstrative. He did nothing to show up Fairchild with theatrics.
But regardless of whether the pitches were balls or strikes, Cabrera, the major league RBI leader with 99 and defending Triple Crown winner and American League MVP, was gone. Cabrera had three RBI Friday night in his first game back after missing four with a hip flexor and abdominal strain, but wouldn’t reach 100 RBI for the 10th consecutive season in this game.
Leyland wasn’t sure if Cabrera would start Sunday after removing him during Saturday night’s 10-0 rout of the Phillies as a precautionary move. Cabrera did favor the hip while running to third base in the second inning before scoring, but stayed in until the fifth inning.
“Cabrera is still bothered but it’s getting better,” Leyland said. “So, the ejection might have been a good thing. He didn’t play much.”
Leyland added that the Tigers are off Monday and Thursday – meaning Cabrera has just two games in the next four days. Leyland hoped that time off would be enough to get his No. 3 hitter much healthier.
Tigers cleanup hitter Prince Fielder convinced Cabrera to walk to the dugout to avoid further confrontation with Fairchild, while Leyland sprinted out to argue. Leyland had heated words with Fairchild and crew chief Jeff Kellogg, pointing repeatedly at him after getting the heave-ho.
“I’m not talking about that,” Leyland said.
Fairchild said, “Jim came out and asked for an explanation, which I gave to him. He then began to argue balls and strikes. And since he had left his position and argued balls and strikes, he was removed from the game.”
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski was asked if the actions of umpires in the game would be something he would discuss with the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.
“My comments on umpires would be confined to the Commissioner’s Office,” said Dombrowski, who would neither confirm nor deny plans to do so.
Matt Tuiasosopo replaced Cabrera in the at-bat. He took two balls to even the count at 2-2 before taking a called third strike, and leaned back before walking away. The at-bat and strikeout were credited to Cabrera.
“I should apologize to (Cabrera) for that,” Tuiasosopo said. “I thought anything that was close, just swing. But the last one was down and he called a strike three. It was kind of a crazy situation. I decided to say nothing to (Fairchild). I definitely did not want to get thrown out.”
Tigers fans in the sell-out crowd of 41,326 at Comerica Park booed that call loudly, and booed again when Fielder popped out foul to third base to end the threat.
Detroit was trailing, 1-0, at the time; however, it came back to win, 12-4, scoring eight unearned runs on two hits in the sixth inning, capped by a Jhonny Peralta grand slam.