Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel reacts as plate umpire… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
Orioles right-hander Kevin Millwood pitched into the seventh inning in his first outing in more than two weeks, outlasting his first baseman, his manager and his pitching coach.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh in Thursday night's 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the Orioles had as many hits as ejections:
On a steamy, muggy Baltimore evening, the spirited crowd of an announced 20,108 witnessed Earl Weaver-like rants from interim manager Juan Samuel and first baseman Ty Wigginton, ignited by a questionable call that the umpire later acknowledged he missed.
"It was entertaining if nothing else," said Millwood, who allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings in his first start since being placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain July 6. "I haven't watched anything on it, so I don't know what was what, but like I said, it was pretty entertaining."
The game also was delayed in the top of the eighth as a fan ran around the field for four minutes before eventually being corralled by Baltimore police. Lost in Thursday's lunacy was a shutout by Minnesota's Carl Pavano (12-6), who almost single-handedly dropped the Orioles to a major league-worst 30-65 on the season.
But this night will be remembered more for the explosive tempers — which might prompt further discipline from the commissioner's office — than Pavano's five-hit gem.
"It was just frustration on everybody's part. I think we're all tired of losing some ballgames," said pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who was thrown out in the seventh inning for sarcastically clapping from the bench after the Twins scored their fifth run. "And when something happens and it doesn't go our way, you say and do things you shouldn't do."
With the Orioles trailing 4-0 in the seventh, Minnesota's J.J. Hardy attempted to steal second, stopped halfway and darted back to first as Orioles catcher Craig Tatum threw to second. Cesar Izturis caught the ball and threw to Wigginton, who appeared to tag Hardy on both hands as he scampered headfirst back to the bag.
But first base umpire and crew chief Gary Darling ruled Hardy safe, which caused Mount Wiggy to erupt. Wigginton ran screaming at Darling and was face-to-face, chest-to-chest before Samuel could intervene.
"I would never do anything that could get worse," Wigginton said. "You're arguing a call, he threw me out of the game and I wanted to make sure he knew where I was coming from. He's a pro and I'm a pro, and we'll go about our business tomorrow."
After the game, Darling looked at video and acknowledged that he missed the call — though he said Wigginton tagged only one hand.
"We looked at it, he missed him the first time and, on a close play, he got him the second time, it looked like," Darling said.
Darling said Wigginton bumped him in "the chest, stomach, yeah" and that would be included in his written report to the league office. If it is ruled that Wigginton touched Darling, he could be facing a fine and/or suspension.
"I will send in my report to the league, and they make the decision on anything," Darling said.
Samuel said he didn't believe Wigginton bumped Darling, and Wigginton said he didn't think he did anything that would prompt further discipline.
"I don't think there'll be anything other than a normal ejection," Wigginton said. "In baseball, you've got the option of questioning a call, and he ejected me for questioning a call."
On his way to the dugout, Wigginton tossed the game ball into the crowd — reminiscent of the time in 2007 when Wigginton was ejected at Camden Yards while with the Tampa Bay Rays and threw his hat into the stands. He said he believes that was his only other ejection as a big leaguer.
Wigginton held on to his cap this time; it was his manager who did the lid-flipping.
Two batters later, Twins catcher Drew Butera singled to score Hardy as the crowd booed and Kranitz mockingly clapped in disapproval toward the umpiring crew.
"I didn't say anything," said Kranitz, who also was ejected May 5 against the Yankees in New York. "I sarcastically clapped in the way that the umpire, I guess Bill Hohn, took offense to."
Said Hohn: "I ejected him for his actions on the bench; [that] is the reason why he got ejected. He knows the reason why he got ejected. … It was uncalled for, unprofessional and uncalled for."
Samuel disagreed with Hohn's quick thumb, ran out to home plate and began arguing furiously, pumping his fist and screaming repeatedly. He slammed his hat, kicked the dirt and then threw his hat, Frisbee style, onto the infield before walking off with his second ejection of the season and as a big league manager. The first came July 3 in Boston.