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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chad Fairchild has another run-in with Tigers, ejecting Miguel Cabrera mid-at-bat

DETROIT — Chad Fairchild struck again, this time with a little forewarning.

A little over three weeks after tossing a pair of Tigers out of a day game, again the home plate umpire in Sunday afternoon's game at Comerica Park, Fairchild ejected Tigers star Miguel Cabrera mid at-bat, in a bases-loaded situation, for arguing balls and strikes.

“I called Strike One and he began to argue balls and strikes. I warned him to stop, but after the second pitch, he began to argue balls and strikes again, and was removed from the game,” Fairchild told a pool reporter after the game, without divulging what it was exactly that Cabrera had said to merit an instantaneous ejection. “He was removed from the game for arguing balls and strikes. What exactly he said will be in our report.”

Manager Jim Leyland was ejected seconds later, after coming out to see what had happened.

“Jim came out and asked for an explanation, which I gave to him,” Fairchild said. “He then began to argue balls and strikes, and since he had left his position and argued balls and strikes, he was removed from the game.”

Matt Tuiasosopo inherited the no-balls, two-strike count, and ended up striking out looking. Prince Fielder followed with a foul fly, ending the potential rally abruptly and weakly.

“I was joking with Prince. ‘Hey, I get a new count?’ It’s a tough situation. You try to make the most out of it. I didn’t,” Tuiasosopo said.

“It’s tough. Anything close — especially with what just happened — you know that he (Fairchild) is probably going to be heated, and looking to make any type of call close.

“The pitch he called me out on, I thought was down for a ball.

“You just try to get as loose as you can, because your body’s not even loose. It’s different. Usually you’ll have a heads-up later in the game, ‘Hey, next inning you might hit.’ (In this case), it’s just, ‘All right, here we go.’ Take a couple swings. Anything close.”

It’s not the first run-in the Tigers have had with this umpiring crew.

A little over three weeks ago, on July 11, Fairchild was the home plate umpire when things got testy between the Tigers and White Sox. That afternoon, Luke Putkonen was ejected for throwing behind Alexei Ramirez, when no warnings had been issued. Leyland soon followed.

The Tigers’ contention in that game was that benches should have been warned after Chris Sale threw a ball high and tight on Fielder, one pitch after a Cabrera home run.

“Not for us,” said crew chief Jeff Kellogg, when asked if there was a concern about two major incidents with the Tigers in a 17-day span, the earlier of which may have come up when Leyland came out on the field Sunday. “That will be in our report, but I’m not going to comment on that now.”

Fairchild has already issued six ejections this month, including four of them since July 20. Cabrera's last ejection came Sept. 8 of last year, for arguing balls and strikes.

It’s not an everyday occurrence, so it must take a lot to stir him up.

“I’m not getting into that. That’s a dead issue. He obviously said something, made a remark the umpire didn’t care for. We’ll just leave it at that,” said Leyland, who did not go any deeper into that line of questioning, other than to respond with “Next question.”

It didn’t really stop the Tigers, either, as they rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Phillies.

“You don’t really get caught up in ‘Oh, Miggy got thrown out.’ You don’t feel sorry for yourself or the team, because he’s not in there anymore,” Don Kelly said. “You just have to do what we did, push some runs across, and get a win.”

It may not have been that big of a deal in the long run, either, considering Cabrera's still nursing a sore abdominal muscle, that had cost him four games last week.

“This thing, the ejection, may have been a blessing,” Leyland said. “He didn’t play much today. Didn’t play much (Saturday) night, and he’ll get off Monday and Thursday. Hopefully, that’ll take care of it. But he’s not 100 percent.”


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