DETROIT — Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds offered no apologies after getting ejected from Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park, only a frustrated sermon on how he believed two controversial calls forced the O’s to battle two difficult foes – the Tigers and the umpires.
Prince Fielder provided the offense for the Tigers, hitting a pair of two-run homers, but Reynolds had bigger issue with the performance of the umpiring crew.
Reynolds and manager Buck Showalter were both ejected in the fifth inning after a close call at first base was overturned by home plate umpire Tim Timmons. In the first inning, Timmons had called Nick Markakis out on a play at the plate, when replays showed he clearly beat the tag.
“I don’t understand how an umpire can miss a play at home plate that’s right in front of him and see that play from home plate at first base,” Reynolds said. “It’s embarrassing that they would overturn a call that obviously has an impact on the game in the middle of the pennant race.”
In the fifth, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta hit a sharp ball down the third-base line, which was backhanded by Manny Machado, who made a strong throw to first with half his body in foul ground. Reynolds lunged to catch the throw and appeared to keep his right toe on the bag.
First-base umpire Jeff Kellogg initially called Peralta out, but after Peralta and Tigers manager Jim Leyland argued that Reynolds’ foot came off the bag, Kellogg and Timmons conferred at first and overturned the call.
"From when I saw the throw coming across, I knew that the throw was going to pull the first baseman that way,” Timmons said after the game. “And at that point, that's when I actually stopped and dropped anchor and looked for the foot. And when I saw the foot come up, the heel and the toe was on the bag. ... At the time he was going to glove the ball, when I saw the bottom of the whole foot and the foot dropped down onto the ground and I had daylight, I had him off the bag."
Reynolds boiled over, spiking his first-base mitt into the infield dirt while yelling a profanity. He was immediately ejected by second-base umpire Vic Carapazza.
Showalter ran out of the dugout to argue – while pushing Reynolds and pitcher Tommy Hunter away to protect them from discipline. As the entire umpiring crew engaged Showalter, he began flailing his arms and was ejected by third-base ump Marty Foster.
“It’s a shame they don’t have accountability,” Reynolds said. “They don’t have any. If they make a bad call, it’s like, 'Ho-hum, next day is coming.' If we have a bad couple of games we get benched or we get sent down. They have nobody breathing down their throats.
“They have nobody, they are just secure in their jobs,” Reynolds added. “And they are probably over there right now laughing about it, because they don’t worry about it. This game is way too important right now, where we are in the season, for these kind of calls to happen. And it’s very frustrating.”
Machado, who showed nice range by simply getting to Peralta’s ball, was issued a throwing error. The Orioles held a 3-1 lead at the time, a lead given to them by a mammoth two-run shot by catcher Matt Wieters in the fifth off reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
“I was shocked,” Showalter said, “especially with as good a play that Mark had made. Manny made a great play on it too. I was really surprised at the play at the plate. That was as blatantly safe as you want to see.”
Both Showalter and Reynolds argued that Carapazza had no reason to eject Reynolds for throwing his glove. They said it’s a fineable offense, but no more so than throwing a helmet.
With the game tied at 3 in the eighth, Darren O’Day walked Miguel Cabrera, who had hit a solo homer in the first inning off Hunter. Bench coach John Russell, serving as manager in Showalter’s absence, went to the lefty-vs.-lefty matchup, puttingJ.C. Romero in to face Fielder.
After getting three straight breaking balls, Fielder tattooed a 90-mph fastball from Romero high into the Detroit night inside the right-field foul pole to put the Tigers in front.
Hunter allowed two homers – including a two-run blast by Fielder that went 462 feet and hit the right-center field concourse to tie the game at 3 in the sixth – but he still gave the Orioles his first quality start in four outings.
Take away the home runs and Hunter allowed just two hits over six innings, striking out three and walking two.
“This is as emotionally draining as you can get,” Hunter said. “It [stinks]. … There were a couple of really really good plays made tonight that unfortunately we came up on the [short] end of the straw, I guess you could say. It [stinks], but you have to play baseball. You have to play nine innings.
The Orioles caught Verlander on an off day – he issued four walks – but couldn’t capitalize, stranding four runners in scoring position.
After tying the game at 1-1 on Nick Markakis' RBI double in the third inning, the Orioles squandered an opportunity to do more damage when Chris Davis struck out with the bases loaded.
In the first inning, Timmons called Markakis out at the plate on a ball Nate McLouth hit down the first-base line to Fielder. Replays showed that Markakis slid just under the sweep tag of catcher Alex Avila. Timmons was looking down the first-base line to see whether McLouth’s ball was fair and then was late maneuvering into position to get a good angle at the play at the plate.
But Reynolds saw something else.
“It’s almost like ‘Screw the Orioles’ by the umpires,” Reynolds said. “I mean [Adam Jones] was obviously safe at first base the other day, cost us a run against Boston. There’s got to be some kind of replay for this. It’s to the point where all these calls that get missed, cost people runs, cost people outs. Cost [Hunter] extra pitches. I can’t say how I really feel but it’s pretty obvious.”