Terry Francona was in the middle of a wild scene Monday night that ended with just about everyone at Progressive Field mad at home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.
The Cleveland Guardians held on to beat the Los Angeles Angels, but that outcome was the secondary highlight to what happened in the bottom of the seventh. Guardians infielder Andrés Giménez checked his swing on a breaking ball from Angels reliever Ryan Tepera in the inning, setting off an insane chain reaction.
Kulpa ruled Giménez checked his swing, to which the Angels asked for an appeal. The third base umpire said he indeed checked the swing on the pitch in the dirt. Because it was ruled a ball, that allowed Francona and the Guardians a chance to challenge the play, with Cleveland arguing the ball hit Giménez in the foot.
Here’s where things got especially crazy, though. The Guardians took their time asking for a replay, but the rules state they have 20 seconds to do so. A full breakdown from CloseCallSports on YouTube indicated Francona made the universal headphone challenge sign within the allotted time.
The umpires, though, might not have seen it in time. Francona emerged from the dugout, and after a brief umpire conference, the Cleveland skipper apparently got the bad news: He wouldn’t be able to challenge.
So, he lost his freaking mind.
That video cuts off before Francona got especially heated, unfortunately.
“I put my hand up, and I know they didn’t see me,” Francona explained in his postgame press conference. “He said (Giménez) was already engaged with the pitcher, and I said, ‘No, he wasn’t. He stepped out and pointed.’ After that, I just checked on (Kulpa’s) family a little bit, and he checked on mine.”
It sounds like the 63-year-old Francona might have blacked out a little bit, too.
“Truth be told, I don’t know what was going through my mind,” Francona told reporters. “Sometimes, and I don’t like that, you get to a point where my intercostal was spasming and (Cleveland bench coach DeMarlo Hale) was yelling something about stepping on my toe, and I’m like ‘Get away from me!’ I don’t know.”
But it didn’t end there. As it looked like the game was about to resume, Tepera wanted a chance to get in some warm-up tosses after standing on the mound for a few minutes. For whatever reason, Kulpa — one of the biggest reasons for the preceding delay — wouldn’t allow Tepera to throw a ball once or twice.
That didn’t sit well with Tepera nor Angels manager Phil Never, and, well, this happened:
“They just wouldn’t let (Tepera) throw any warmup pitches,” Nevin told reporters in his own postgame interview, while also admitting he saw Francona ask for a replay. “To me, that was player safety, I didn’t understand it. ? I wasn’t really going to leave until they let (Tepera) throw.”
Oh, and by the way, the Guardians held on for the win, their fourth straight, as they look to hold off hard-charging Chicago in the American League Central. Mike Trout also hit a home run for the seventh straight game, one shy of a major league record. All in all, you could say fans got their money’s worth in this one.