Ejection Inspection, Week 24: Seattle Mariners Manager Scott Servais Gets Ejected over Strange Play

Scott Servais
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 11: Manager Scott Servais #29 of the Seattle Mariners argues with an umpire after being ejected from the game in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during their game at T-Mobile Park on September 11, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Scott Servais Gets Ejected over Strange Play

Welcome to Week 24 of Ejection Inspection! The premise and ground rules are detailed here. The condensed version: each ejection from the previous week (Thursday through Wednesday) is listed in a table. The author – a former player/coach/umpire – analyzes each ejection and assigns it an entertainment rating of one to five Weavers in honor of late Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver. This week, Scott Servais of the Seattle Mariners got tossed over one of the strangest plays of the season.

(For a list of every article in this series, click here.)

There were eight ejections in Week 24 – four players and four managers.

Ejection Table

Date Team Opp Inn. Name Pos Umpire Pos Reason
1 Fri 9/6 TOR @TB T4 Charlie Montoyo Mgr Bill Miller HP Arguing balls/strikes
2 Sat 9/7 MIN CLE 6/7 Nelson Cruz DH Laz Diaz HP Arguing balls/strikes
3 Sun 9/8 WSN @ATL T5 Trea Turner SS Mike Estabrook HP Arguing balls/strikes
4 Sun 9/8 WSN @ATL T5 Dave Martinez Mgr Mike Estabrook HP Arguing balls/strikes
5 Sun 9/8 PIT STL B7 Clint Hurdle Mgr Roberto Ortiz HP Arguing balls/strikes
6 Sun 9/8 PIT STL B7 Adam Frazier 2B Roberto Ortiz HP Arguing balls/strikes
7 Wed 9/11 CWS KC T9 James McCann PH Dan Bellino HP Arguing balls/strikes
8 Wed 9/11 SEA CIN T9 Scott Servais Mgr John Libka HP Arguing batter interference non-call

 

Charlie Montoyo, Toronto Blue Jays Manager

When

Friday, September 6th, at Tampa Bay Rays, top of the fourth

Umpire

Bill Miller (HP)

Description

With his team trailing 3-0, Blue Jays center fielder Teoscar Hernandez led off the fourth with a called strikeout. The last pitch was a fastball in on the hands that broke across the plate. Designated hitter Randal Grichuk came up next. He took a 2-2 fastball that was near the knees and over the inside corner for strike three. It was another pitch that came across the plate at a severe angle. During the subsequent pitching change, Montoyo hollered protests (many that were profane – there were a lot of f-bombs) from the dugout, so Miller booted him.

Understand the frustration?

Yes. The Blue Jays haven’t had a good season, and from the dugout, both third strikes probably looked like balls because the catcher had to reach for them. However, they broke across the plate, so they were strikes.

Was the ejection justified?

Yes. Not only was Montoyo arguing balls and strikes from the dugout, but Miller had told him to stop.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. Nothing funny happened, and Montoyo didn’t even leave the dugout.

 

Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter

When

Saturday, September 7th, vs. Cleveland Indians, between sixth and seventh innings

Umpire

Laz Diaz (HP)

Description

With his Twins trailing, 2-1, first baseman C.J. Cron dug in against sidearmed reliever Adam Cimber. Two were out, and there was a runner on second. On 0-2, Cron took a slider that the catcher caught several inches wide of the plate. To Cron’s surprise, Diaz called it strike three, ending the inning. Between innings, Cruz yelled commentary at Diaz – what he said, exactly, is unclear. No microphones picked it up, and cameras showed him briefly. His lips were tough to read. The only clear action that cameras saw was holding his hands about a foot and a half apart. At any rate, Diaz dumped him. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli came out of the dugout and had a calm, lengthy discussion with Diaz. He then returned to the dugout.

Understand the frustration?

Yes. The pitch looked like it was significantly outside, although it might have clipped the front corner of the plate.

Was the ejection justified?

Tough to say without knowing what Cruz said or did.

Entertainment Rating

Zero Weavers. The announcing teams didn’t know who – if anyone – got ejected until well later.

 

Trea Turner, Washington Nationals Shortstop
Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals Manager

When

Sunday, September 8th, at Atlanta Braves, top of the fifth

Umpire

Mike Estabrook (HP)

Description

Turner led off the fifth against Mike Soroka with the Nationals holding a 4-1 lead. He took a 3-2 fastball at the hollow of the knees and over the outer half of the plate for strike three. Turner tossed his bat, thinking it was ball four, and spun back around when he heard Estabrook ring him up. He said, “That’s brutal. That’s (bleepin) terrible.” Turner then fully faced Estabrook and said, “That’s a ball.” Estabrook ran him and said, “You came back after I gave you the chance to keep walking.”

Martinez arrived and got Turner out of Estabrook’s face. He then asked why Estabrook tossed him. Estabrook said, “You can’t argue balls and strikes” twice. Martinez kept talking to him, drawing the heave-ho. At this point, he decided to get his money’s worth. He followed Estabrook as he kept jawing. In his rant, he said that it’s “supposed to be fair” twice. Before returning to his dugout, he told Estabrook that it’s the same thing every time, and then used several synonyms for manure (some profane, some not) to describe the calls.

Understand the frustration?

Estabrook’s reputation precedes him. He has not had a consistent zone this season, and he’s often had a quick trigger to go along with it. Even though the call looked correct, it didn’t look that way to the Nationals. Given Estabrook’s reputation, one can understand why they’d get angry over a borderline strike call, even if it’s correct.

Was the ejection justified?

Turner’s seemed to be a quick trigger, but Martinez definitely was. Most likely, Martinez went out there with the intent of getting chucked.

Entertainment Rating

This sequence earned three Weavers, namely for length.

 

Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager
Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates Second Baseman

When

Sunday, September 8th, vs. St. Louis Cardinals, bottom of the seventh

Umpire

Roberto Ortiz (HP)

Description

With two out, a runner on second, and the Cardinals holding a 2-0 lead, Frazier took a 1-1 fastball that appeared to be wide of the plate. Ortiz called it strike two, drawing all kinds of yelling from Hurdle in the Pirates dugout. Ortiz held his hand up and said it was enough, but Hurdle continued, so Ortiz bounced him.

Hurdle came out of the dugout and yelled lots of things. As he arrived, he said, “When you’re wrong, you’re WRONG.” He pointed at Frazier and said, “Give him first rights like anybody else. Alright? You’re out here stargazing. Call the game right! You got it?” Ortiz said he heard him, and Hurdle retorted, “Yeah, you heard me. Do something different and get better. That’s what you need to do.” Then he stormed to the clubhouse. The next pitch crossed the plate over the outer half and at the hollow of the knee for strike three. Frazier turned to Ortiz, said about two sentences, and got the thumb. What he said was impossible to discern from film, since no microphone picked him up and his mouth was covered.

Understand the frustration?

Yes, since the Pirates haven’t been playing well and strike two looked like it was a ball.

Was the ejection justified?

Impossible to determine without knowing what they said. (Remember that when Hurdle chewed Ortiz out, he had already been ejected.)

Entertainment Rating

Two Weavers for its short length.

 

James McCann, Chicago White Sox Pinch Hitter

When

Wednesday, September 11th, vs. Kansas City Royals, top of the ninth

Umpire

Dan Bellino (HP)

Description

McCann batted with runners on first and second and two out in the bottom of the eighth and the Royals leading, 8-6. The first pitch from new pitcher Tim Hill was a slider that missed several inches outside as it broke around the plate, but Bellino called it a strike. McCann quietly voiced his displeasure then continued the at-bat. He swung through the next two pitches for an inning-ending strikeout.

Royals center fielder led off the ninth and took a 1-2 pitch off the outer part of the plate for ball two. McCann started yelling from the dugout for Bellino to call it both ways, saying it was in the same spot. Bellino told him to stop, but McCann continued and held up his hands as a visual aid, so Bellino sent him to the clubhouse. McCann questioned why, and before that conversation went on for very long, White Sox manager Rick Renteria came out of the dugout to say a few words to Bellino.

Understand the frustration?

In a two-run ballgame, absolutely, especially after McCann struck out with the tying run on base.

Was the ejection justified?

What exactly McCann said is unclear; however, Bellino did tell him to stop. Based on that, yes, it was justified.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. It was not memorable.

 

Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners Manager

When

Wednesday, September 11th, vs. Cincinnati Reds, top of the ninth

Umpire

John Libka (HP)

Description

With the bases loaded, two out, and the Mariners leading 5-2, Reds pinch hitter Derek Dietrich tried to check his swing on an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Catcher Omar Narváez blocked it, but suddenly, the ball shot back to the backstop halfway toward the first base dugout. Libka appealed to Paul Nauert at third, who said that Dietrich swung for strike three. Narváez could not find the ball, but the pitcher pointed him to it as Dietrich and all the runners took off. The throw to first was late, so all runners advanced safely, making the score 5-3.

Servais came out of the dugout and claimed that Dietrich hit the ball with his backswing. Certain that somebody saw it, he asked Libka to consult the crew. During that discussion, tv replay from the third base dugout camera well showed that Dietrich accidentally hit the ball with his backswing. By rule, this is “unintentional follow-through contact” or, as high school rules call it “backswing interference.” According to Rule 6.03(a)(3)(4) Comment, the ball is dead, a strike is charged to the batter, and the runners return to where they were at the time of the pitch. Since this was the third strike, Dietrich should have been out. With it being the third out, the game should have ended.

No umpire saw the ball hit Dietrich’s backswing, so the play stood. It also was not reviewable, so the game had to continue. The Mariners scoreboard operators showed the replay angle that the TV broadcast did, riling up the fans and enraging Libka. When Servais pointed to the scoreboard and argued more, then Libka, by rule, had to toss him. (If a manager references seeing a replay that contradicts an on-field ruling, then, by rule, he is automatically ejected.)

Understand the frustration?

Big time. Servais was correct, and the game should have been over. Yes, the Mariners ended up winning, 5-3, but Servais couldn’t tell the future. To make matters worse, the call wasn’t reviewable, even though it was next to impossible for any umpire to see this. (Expect this to change next season. The only angle that clearly showed it was from the camera well by the dugout.)

Was the ejection justified?

The crew’s hands were tied by the rule, so yes.

Entertainment Rating

Four Weavers. This was one of the strangest plays of the season. (Author’s Note: I learned this rule early on in my umpiring days but never had to use it. This game was the first time I have ever seen it at any level of baseball in 30 years.)

 

Leaderboard

After 24 weeks, here are the leaders. Fight-related ejections do not count toward the leaderboard.

Managers: Rick Renteria of the Chicago White Sox, David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds, and Ron Gardenhire of the Detroit Tigers (eight each)
Players: Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera (three)
Team high: Reds (19, 23 if you count the fights), Tigers/White Sox (tied at 11)
Team low: Cleveland Indians (one)
Umpire: Mike Estabrook (13)

 

Look for Week 25 on Thursday, September 19th.

Evan Thompson played baseball as a youth and teenager. He also umpired between 1995 and 2004 and has coached at the high school level.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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