Baltimore Orioles’ Matt Wieters spouts off
There weren’t many Baltimore Orioles (or Toronto players for that matter) who were in agreement with home plate umpire Dan Bellino’s strike zone last night – least of all, Matt Wieters. The Birds’ catcher earned his second career ejection in the last of the fifth last night for arguing balls and strikes. Ironically, his first career ejection also came against Toronto.
You know that a home plate umpire is having a bad night when members of both teams are complaining about the strike zone. One of the Orioles’ points of contention was that numerous check swings by Toronto hitters were called balls, and Bellino seemingly refused to appeal down the line for help. That and the strike zone itself just seemed to move around. Wieters himself checked his swing in the fifth with two strikes and two outs, and was rung up – again, with Bellino refusing to ask for help. This led to the ejection.
Chris Tillman had a rough first inning throwing a lot more pitches than he intended. Part of that was Bellino’s strike zone, however Toronto hitters fouled off pitch after pitch. Tillman’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K. Tillman rebounded nicely however, and turned in a quality start.
Call to the Pen
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in that first inning on an RBI-double by Donaldson, and a bases-loaded walk to Smoak. There were several borderline pitches in Smoak’s at-bat which Tillman felt he should have gotten, however that’s not how Dan Bellino saw them. As the game wore on, there were times when Toronto hitters appeared to question calls as well – which as I said is what tells you that Bellino had a bad night. It wasn’t necessarily one-sided, but just consistently inconsistent.
The Orioles struck back in the last of the first on an RBI-single by Manny Machado, however again there were several borderline pitches in that inning which went Toronto’s way. This allowed Toronto to minimze the damage and get out with only giving up one run. The O’s would tie the game in the last of the seventh on Hardy’s sac fly-RBI.
One inning later, Machado would send a flair the opposite way to right field with Rickard on second base. Amidst confusion in the Toronto outfield, the ball dropped in. Rickard has good speed, and came around to score which gave the O’s a 3-2 lead and an eventual victory.
Wieters had calmed down by the time the game was over, and while he seemed to take the we’re all human angle to a degree, he admitted that he lost it a bit (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
"He just hit a nerve a little bit, especially the checked swing, because they do have the option to get help. It was just, I thought it was a little bit inconsistent behind the plate for most of the night. As a catcher, first you just want to get pitches for both sides. They were getting a few more. Temper got the best of me and boiled over."
To top it off, Showalter came out to “protect” Wieters, but Wieters was already tossed out before he got there. However Showalter then proceeded to have a lengthy and spirited argument with Dan Bellino, telling him exactly what he thought of his strike zone. It got to the point to where it was fairly obvious that Showalter was trying to get ejected also – but he didn’t.
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The fact that Bellino gave a manager that much rope in terms of arguing balls and strikes tells you that he knew he had really messed up. You could all but see Showalter tell his coaches that they’d be handling the rest of the game before he went out there – yet he was allowed to stay. That’s telling to me. I don’t feel that Bellino had any sort of agenda or anything of that sort, however he just had a bad night.
The best news for the Birds is that they took two-of-three from Toronto in the teams’ first series of the year. Toronto is a team that came in probably looking and expecting to sweep the Orioles. Yet while the games were definitely close, the O’s took the series. The standings mean nothing right now, however these games count as much as do games in September.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones' defense wins titles
The Birds now head back out on the road after a brief homestand, where they’ll begin in Kansas City this weekend. Yovani Gallardo will get the start or the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Chris Young. Game time is set for 8:15 PM.