Right-hander Jason Hammel was ejected in the fourth inning Saturday when he hit the first batter he faced after allowing three consecutive home runs to the Detroit Tigers in Saturday’s 10-3 loss.
Hammel hit Tigers left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo in the shoulder with an 82 mph slider, and home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt immediately tossed Hammel. The pitch appeared to get away from Hammel as it left his hand and tracked toward Tuiasosopo’s head.
Designated hitter Victor Martinez, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and catcher Alex Avila hit three consecutive solo home runs off Hammel before Tuiasosopo’s at-bat to take a 4-1 lead.
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Crew chief Jerry Layne said an umpire can decide if a pitch is intentional and eject a pitcher without warning. After Hammel’s ejection, though, any pitcher entering the game and both teams received a warning.
“They claim there was no intent,” Layne said. “Three home runs and a guy gets hit, you’re an umpire, what do you do?”
Manager Buck Showalter came out of the dugout to argue the ejection with Wendelstedt, moving Hammel and catcher Matt Wieters away from the umpire.
“It’s tough on umpires trying to judge intent, but they get a lot of pressure from the major league offices,” Showalter said. “But obviously, we’re biased, very biased. I understand what the umpire’s trying to do, but it’s very tough for them to judge intent."
Left-hander T.J. McFarland replaced Hammel out of the bullpen. Hammel’s final line was three innings plus four batters and he allowed five runs, five hits, three walks, three home runs and a hit batter.
“Obviously, three balls left the park and then a breaking ball hits the guy,” Showalter said. “You put yourself in their shoes and put yourself in our shoes. That’s what I try to do.”