Mother Nature did baseball fans a favor on Thursday. By raining out the Detroit Tigers season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it allowed Friday’s makeup game to get the spotlight.
Needless to say, a game that featured two epic ninth-inning rallies, a Tigers walk-off being overturned after an umpires review, and a Ron Gardenhire ejection in his Tigers managerial debut, proved worthy of that spotlight.
It actually started as a ho-hum opener between two teams not expected to be factors in the standings. By the time Pittsburgh’s Gregory Polanco sealed a 13-10 win with a 13th-inning three-run homer, everyone’s baseball bingo cards had nearly filled up.
Hmm … passed ball, wild pitch, blown save, errors, replay review, catcher's interference, another replay review, HBP … only vacant square on my baseball bingo card is balk.
— Rob Biertempfel (@RobBiertempfel) March 30, 2018
The balk never came, but a dirt-kicking Ron Gardenhire more than made up for that.
The craziness really began in the ninth inning. After Pittsburgh plated four runs to take what seemed to be a commanding lead in the top half, the Tigers rallied back in the bottom half with four runs of their own to tie it.
That led to the moment everyone was buzzing about, and that Ron Gardenhire is still grumbling about.
In the 10th inning, Detroit’s Nicholas Castellanos was on second base after reaching on a fielders choice and advancing on a wild pitch. JaCoby Jones then hit what appeared to be a walk-off single to left field, only Pittsburgh’s Corey Dickerson had other plans. Not necessarily known for his defense, Dickerson made a good throw that resulted in a photo-finish with a sliding Castellanos and a tagging Francisco Cervelli at home plate.
The call on the field was safe. However, replays appeared to show Cervelli applying the tag just before Castellanos’ foot brushed the plate.
The umpires determined there was enough evidence to overturn that original call. That decision ended the celebration and set Gardenhire off.
The Tigers' walk-off winning run has been overturned. Manager Ron Gardenhire has been thrown out. Chaos at Comerica Park.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) March 30, 2018
Chaos and controversy always make for a fun combination. Though in this case, it’s tough to find fault in the umpires work. Yeah, it would have been great to get the original call right as to avoid the premature celebration, but the crew did a good job overall considering original home plate umpire Mike Everitt left the game after taking a pitch to his mask.
Gardenhire wasn’t so understanding.
The ejection was the 74th of Gardenhire’s managerial career. The previous 73 all came with the Minnesota Twins.
Ron Gardenhire was ejected from 73 of 2,107 Twins games he managed (3.4%). Ron Gardenhire (to date) was ejected from 1 of 1 Tigers games he managed (100%).
— David Hallstrom (@dehallstrom) March 30, 2018
And like many of those previous ejections, Gardenhire wasn’t in the mood to talk about it.
Ron Gardenhire didn’t speak to the media postgame because he was “pretty upset” bench coach Steve Liddle said. “We thought we had the game an hour ago.”
— Jason Lewis (@JasonLewis_TV) March 30, 2018
It’s going to be a long season in Detroit. But a testy Ron Gardenhire will at least provide some moments worth talking about.
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