Rob Thomson

Incensed Thomson tossed standing up for Stubbs 

“The first thing I did after the game was go up to him and say how much I appreciated it,” Stubbs said.

NBC Universal, Inc.

BALTIMORE – When it comes to managerial pyrotechnics, Rob Thomson will never be mistaken for Billy Martin or Earl Weaver or Lou Piniella. If he’s even slightly nettled, he rarely lets it show.

Which made what happened in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 8-3 loss at Oriole Park at Camden Yards so noteworthy.

Thomson was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook after a spirited argument. The disagreement ostensibly had to do with whether or not Garrett Stubbs had been hit by a pitch; the replay crew in New York eventually concluded that he hadn’t. But given that the Phils were down six runs at the time, the real trigger could have been frustration, the need to blow off steam and/or an attempt to fire up his clubhouse.

The argument started calmly enough but ended with the Phillies skipper red-faced, yelling and throwing down his hat.

And while the Stubbs incident was the final straw, Thomson may also have been on edge because there had been some consternation earlier of Estabrook’s strike zone.

“A lot of hitters were frustrated,” he conceded. “It affects the game but, as I’ve said before, you just have to play better to overcome things like that. Umpire calls. Weather. Whatever it is. You’ve just got to play better.”

It was only the fourth time in his 2-plus years as a big league manager that Thomson has been tossed.

The beginning of the end for him Sunday came with two outs and a runner on first in the top of the sixth. The first pitch from O’s ace Corbin Burnes to Stubbs was in the dirt. The Phillies catcher thought the ball hit his foot, though, and Estabrook at first agreed.

As Stubbs trotted to first, though, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde came out to argue that his foot had been out of the batter’s box. The umpires huddled and when the conference broke up, they decided that Stubbs had been in the box ... but that, upon further review, had not been hit by the pitch after all.

“The base umpires said they couldn’t see the ball hit his foot,” Thomson said. “So I asked him, ‘You’re telling me that from 200 feet or 130 feet or however far it is you can tell whether the ball hit his foot or not?’

“So he told me, ‘Use your challenge.’ I said, ‘You’ve already awarded him first base. Why don’t you make them use their challenge?’ That was it, really. I didn’t quite understand the whole thing, but it is what it is.”

Said Stubbs: “I did get hit by the pitch. If I didn’t think I did, I wouldn’t say that. I understand that probably on video you can’t tell. That happens sometimes. So maybe they couldn’t see it. The problem I had with it was that I looked at Mike and told him I got hit in the foot. He said, ‘Yes. Time. Hit by pitch,’ and awarded me first base.

“The (Orioles) had a problem with my foot maybe being out of the batter’s box. Which I thought might be the case. I ended up looking at the video and I don’t think my foot was out of the box. Regardless of that, they ended up giving the hit by pitch back and then it wasn’t a hit by pitch anymore for whatever reason.”

Starter Zack Wheeler and Stubbs both mentioned how much it meant that the manager had their backs.

“The first thing I did after the game was go up to him and say how much I appreciated it,” the catcher said. “It’s not just for me. In that moment, he’s doing it for the team, too. And it hit my foot. So the fact they took that away, that’s a runner on first base we don’t get.”

Added Wheeler: “It was a frustrating day all-around. I felt like Stubby got hit with that pitch. And the guy at second base (umpire Charlie Ramos) somehow saw that he didn’t get hit? It’s kind of a mess.

“But we’ve got a long season ahead of us. We have a really good team. So we’ll be all right. We just have to bite our tongues and keep pressing. Not let that stuff affect us. I feel like Rob kind of got all of our anger out for us. It’s great to see him standing up for us.”

Contact Us