It’s not often that a manager takes the umpire’s side in an argument involving one of his best players. However, that’s exactly what Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did Sunday.
Gibbons wasn’t very pleased when Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Welke in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Bautista, who took a borderline third strike, appeared to be warned by Welke to return to the dugout. Instead, Bautista continued to argue and was thrown out of the game.
The Blue Jays went on to lose the game 2-1 in 10 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays. The game ended when Nolan Reimold — inserted into the lineup for Bautista — struck out with the tying run on third and the winning run on first base.
There’s no doubting that the Jays would have much rather seen Bautista in that spot. After the game, Gibbons made that known while calling out Bautista for his actions.
“The bottom line is we needed him in the game,” Gibbons said in his postgame media session. “Say your piece and get the hell out of there. We’re trying to get in the playoffs, we need you on the field. He’s a marked man in this game. Bill Welke? I thought he had a pretty good zone today. It was steady, he was calling strikes. He was looking to call strikes. But we need you in the game.”
It’s been a rough month for Bautista. He’s hitting just .237 in August with a .730 OPS, both season lows for the All-Star. He also has 16 strikeouts in 20 games. This all comes on the heels of him publicly criticizing the Jays for not doing more at the MLB trade deadline last month.
The Blue Jays still have a lot of work to do if they want to reach the playoffs, though. With Sunday’s loss — their seventh in their last 10 games — the Jays sit 5 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot and eight games back in the division.