You can add Buck Showalter to the lengthy list of managers and players who have now had a problem with umpire Angel Hernandez. With the Baltimore Orioles trailing Toronto 2-0 in the top of the second, Chris Davis appeared to swing-and-miss at strike three for the first out. However the ball trickled away from the catcher Thole, and Davis began to run to first base…until Hernandez put his hands up to indicate a foul ball. Toronto manager John Gibbons argued that the ball had never hit Davis’ bat, and MASN replays seemed to back that fact up. After conferring with the other umpires, Hernandez called Davis out. Buck Showalter came out to argue his point, and was incensed with Hernandez to the point of being thrown out of the game.
Showalter complained vehemently for several minutes before being ejected. So why the argument if in fact the call was correct? While in general players and coaches want umpires to ask their associates for help on close calls, is it not fair to point out that the other umpires would have no clue if the batter actually foul tipped it or not? Furthermore, Davis in effect stopped his run to first base when Hernandez called it a foul ball. In that situation he still needs to be put out, and he never got that courtesy in that case. Ultimately the call was correct (Davis struck out), however the situation was very poorly handled by Angel Hernandez. And thus you could make the argument that he should have left if as a foul ball so as to give Davis the benefit of the doubt since he stopped running after Hernandez’s foul ball signal.
However the good news for the O’s was that they pulled to within one run in short order on J.J. Hardy‘s solo homer. Starter Jason Hammel then proceeded to go into a zone in which he shut Toronto down for quite some time. Hammel’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K. The four runs obviously prevent him from getting a quality start, however Hammel was pretty solid for much of the time he was in the game (following an Adam Lind first inning home run). Toronto would put up another run to run the score to 3-1, however the Orioles’ four-run sixth inning quickly took care of that. Adam Jones‘ RBI-single brought the O’s to within 3-2, which was followed by Chris Davis’ three-run home run (27th of the season). Yes folks, the guy can also crush knuckleballs!
After the teams swapped home runs (including one by Ryan Flaherty), Tommy Hunter relieved Hammel in the seventh, and Kawasaki tied the game at six with a two-run shot. That was the key play in the game, as the Orioles had taken control to that point. They’re playing a team in Toronto who’s very similar to the O’s in the sense that they really believe that they’re never out of games. Furthermore while they took three-of-four in the last series, the Orioles don’t play well in Toronto. A lot of people don’t like to hear that, but the fact is that there are certain places where you don’t play well. Perhaps more importantly, Toronto’s won nine games in a row which goes back to the confidence aspect on their side as well.
Toronto ended up winning the game in the last of the ninth after Kawasaki sacrificed two runners into scoring position with two outs, and Rajai Davis hit an RBI-single to center. Acting manager John Russel had just brought in Pedro Strop to pitch to Davis, although you have to wonder if Russel didn’t outsmart himself in a sense by lifting Darren O’Day. This is not to say that O’Day should have faced Davis, however Orioles fans know the result of Strop pitching in the game in that situation; they don’t know what would have happened had O’Day stayed in the game. But in fairness to Russel, hindsight is 20/20.
One concern coming out of this game is that Buck Showalter might in fact be facing disciplinary action from the league if they deem that his actions showed up Angel Hernandez in any way. Managers or players won’t generally be suspended for just a run-of-the-mill ejection; however the league reviews all ejections and if they deem that the player/coach argued beyond reason after being tossed, they might tack on a suspension or fine. Having said that, the league would also have no choice but to say that the situation was mis-handled by Angel Hernandez as well. Ultimately as I said above, the original call should have probably stood since Davis stopped due to Hernandez’s call. You have to overcome bad calls in sports, but the fact that Hardy homered in the next at-bat and that the Orioles ended up losing by one is tough to overlook.
The Orioles will be back in action in Toronto this afternoon just after 1 PM as Miguel Gonzalez will make his first start since becoming a father this past week. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Chien-Ming Wang.