If you look at the line score from last night’s Orioles’ game in Detroit you’re probably going to say that Tommy Hunter had a decent start (save for a Prince Fielder home run), the Orioles out-hit Detroit, and Fielder burned the O’s again late with a two-run homer in the last of the eighth. A hard fought game in which the Orioles simply came out on the short end of the stick, right? Absolutely; without a doubt. However there’s more to this story, and unfortunately we haven’t heard the last of this yet. (And when we do I’m afraid that it doesn’t end well for the O’s.)
If you read my bio on this site or follow my in-game tweets it’s plainly obvious that I have no love for umpires/referees in sports. That’s somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek running joke, however as often as we talk of players being held accountable it seems that we sometimes give officials a pass. I don’t feel that any teams or players in any sports are targeted by umps/refs, and furthermore I do firmly believer that umpires are trying to make the right calls. They’re human just like everyone else, and to a certain point we need to remember that. We also need to remember that one bad call will generally not tell the whole game story. Each team has opportunities to win and to overcome bad calls in each game.
However the fact is that the Orioles found themselves playing Family Feud with the umpiring crew last night, specifically home plate umpire Tim Timmons. In the first inning Nick Markakis stood at third base with one out, and Nate McClouth grounded to first base. Prince Fielder made a snap throw home, and Timmons called Markakis out after he appeared to slide directly under the tag. A seething Buck Showalter came out to argue, but to no avail. There was also some question as to whether the ball was fair, but even Showalter dismissed that after the game when he said that he never felt it was foul. He thought that Markakis was safe at first base, a claim that was backed up by MASN replays.
The main scene everyone will remember from this game of course occurred in the last of the fifth. Johnny Peralta hit a bouncer to third, and Manny Machado made a bit of an errant throw. Mark Reynolds appeared to come off the bag to save the ball from going up the line, but Peralta was called out by first base umpire Jeff Kellogg. Manager Jim Leyland came out to argue, and quite frankly I thought he had a legitimate beef. Timmons came up the line and spoke to Kellogg, and the call was reversed. Mark Reynolds spiked his glove in anger (and appeared to utter a “magic word” in the process) and was promptly ejected by second base umpire Vic Carapazza. Buck Showalter came out to protect his player and was also promptly ejected before giving a very spirited earful to the entire umpiring crew that would have made the Earl of Baltimore himself blush.
Before we go any further with this, a still picture of the play (with the caption “OUT”) started spreading around some of the Orioles’ “tweeps” last night, clearly showing Reynolds with the ball in his glove holding the bag. So Kellogg got the call right to begin with. It was unclear as to whether or not Kellogg asked Timmons for help, or if Timmons just decided to give his two sense. However Buck Showalter addressed the fact that Reynolds should not have been ejected after the game. Throwing your glove is a minor equipment fine, therefore the fact that he was “run” might well have been inappropriate. Nevertheless, umpires can eject players (and coaches) at their own discretion if they feel that insubordination occurred. Obviously Carapazza felt that whatever Reynolds said combined with him throwing his glove warranted an ejection. However needless to say, I’ve seen people NOT thrown out of games for doing much more than that.
Showalter appeared angry about the way the call was overturned, but moreso about the ejection of Mark Reynolds. Here’s another thing; the umpires were visibly shoving Showalter back towards the Orioles’ dugout throughout the entire discussion. To me that comes across as incredibly unprofessional on the part of the umps. However the fact is that Tim Timmons overturned a correct call that was made by the umpire on the spot. So to me, the entire argument was justified on the part of the Orioles. And I’d also like to hear the league’s explanation for why the umpires were allowed to put their hands all over Buck Showalter.
Incidentally, Peralta was caught stealing so the run he represented never scored. But the Orioles lost the services of their manager as well as a bat that’s heating up right now in the lineup. (Joe Mahoney, Reynolds’ replacement, went 0-for-1.) And here’s another problem that will come up in a couple of days; Reynolds will most likely be suspended. He made some pretty scathing comments about the umpiring after the game, and MLB generally takes notice of that. This will leave the Orioles a roster spot down in a few games whenever it happens.
Again, the O’s definitely got the short end of some shaddy umpiring last night. However I think the worst thing that happened was that it threw the team off it’s game to the point that they lost some focus. That can’t be allowed to happen to a team in a pennant race. You have to overcome bad calls, not let them overcome you. Zach Britton will return to the Orioles’ rotation after a stint in the minors to make tonight’s start, and Detroit will counter with Rick Porcello. Over his last seven starts, Porcello’s ERA is 5.40, so hopefully the O’s can put up some runs against him tonight. They’ll need to do that in order to win.
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