Orioles manager Buck Showalter said an aspect of the game that "consistently is inconsistent" led to the rare ejection of catcher Matt Wieters in the bottom of the fifth inning of Thursday's 3-2, come-from-behind win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Home plate umpire Dan Bellino called Wieters out on a two-strike check swing that was a close call, and did not appeal to third base umpire Tony Randazzo. Wieters, who had been ejected just once in 767 career games, mouthed off to Bellino on his way back to the dugout and was ejected quickly.
"It was about something he said," Showalter said. "That usually gets you ejected. Our point is [Blue Jays right fielder Jose] Bautista had two obvious check-swing strikes last night that weren't called. I think, basically, if you ask for help there and he bangs him at third base with the third base umpire, you can semi-live with it.
"There's so much inconsistency on that play, and rightfully so. It's hard. A lot of guys, there's certain types of check swings that don't get called, and it depends on who the umpire is. I wish that there was some way that we could have a quick, flash replay, where you can yes or no or go somewhere else. That's the one that consistently is inconsistent. I think there's a lot of frustration built over the game by the strike zone. I think that was an accumulation over that, too."
Wieters conceded he said some things he "probably shouldn't have."
"He just hit a nerve a little bit, especially the checked swing because they do have the option to get help," Wieters said. "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."
For Wieters, who was behind the plate for some close calls on the edges of the strike zone for starter Chris Tillman, the fact that there seemed to be inconsistencies on that front made it harder to ignore with a bat in his hands and another opportunity to drive in runs in a tight game.
"That's the one thing," Wieters said. "We're all human. We all make mistakes, so balls and strikes … He's trying hard back there to get the balls and strikes right. It's one thing where he could have gotten help, but he didn't. It was a little frustrating trying to figure out where his strike zone was. He's doing his best back there. We're all human."
Bellino seemed susceptible to the pitch-framing of Blue Jays catcher Russel Martin, who is renowned as one of the best in the game at stealing strikes. Toronto starter Marco Estrada lived in the bottom part of the zone, with Martin yanking some pitches up into the zone.
Showalter ultimately separated Wieters from Bellino, but had to be careful himself because pitching coach Dave Wallace was not with the team. He didn't want to leave any added burden on his stand-in, special instructor Ramon Martinez.
"In the bottom of the first, I thought that was a big inning for us until we got ball four called a strike" on designated hitter Mark Trumbo, Showalter said. "Obviously a tough night. It was a real frustrating night for me. Wally's not here. You have to be careful with an ejection. But at some point — that was a challenge. That's a frustrating game to manage."