Lott: A candid Russell Martin discusses his ejection in a wild and disappointing marathon loss for the Jays

Russell Martin
Photo Credit: John Lott

Russ Martin had calmed down by the time he met the media. But he did not mince words when he talked about his ejection in the 13th inning by plate umpire Vic Carapazza.

“He just wasn’t very good today,” the Blue Jays’ catcher said.

Martin put that sentiment in more unvarnished terms after he was rung up on a checked swing in the 13th. As he walked away, he looked back at Carapazza and the two exchanged words. Carapazza disliked what he heard and immediately tossed Martin, who flew into a rage and had to be held back from the umpire by acting manager DeMarlo Hale and third-base coach Luis Rivera. 

Martin was undeterred. He kept circling and pushing back against his protectors in a furious bid to get at Carapazza.Finally, he relented and returned to the dugout. 

He was the second front- line Jays’ player to be ejected. In the first inning, Carapazza tossed Edwin Encarnacion for questioning a 3-2 strike call, and then he ejected manager John Gibbons for coming out to defend Encarnacion.

Martin insisted he said nothing to merit an ejection – at least not before the ejection. He was questioning a strike call earlier in the at-bat, he said.

“I told him the first curveball, I had that pitch being away,” Martin said. “And then he said, ‘I don’t want to hear it.’ Then I was like, ‘It’s still away.’ As I’m walking away, he threw me out of the game. 

“I wasn’t being aggressive, didn’t tell him that he sucked personally. I didn’t tell him that he was bad. I didn’t do anything like that. All the things that everybody in the ballpark were thinking, I didn’t say that. I felt like he really didn’t have to throw me out in that situation, but I don’t know, maybe just the way the game was going on, and I guess he was just tired of being talked at or whatnot. And I just felt like there were some pitches that were called balls that were strikes and the other way around, so it was just a frustrating day overall.”

It was particularly frustrating for the Blue Jays, who lost 2-1 to Cleveland in a 19-inning marathon that saw infielders Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney pitch the final two innings. Goins tiptoed out of trouble in the 18th. Barney gave up a homer to Carlos Santana to lead off the 19th. That was the difference.

It’s impossible to say for certain, but the difference for Toronto might also have been the absence of Encarnacion and Martin. Encarnacion took a full-count pitch in the first inning that was outside by wide margin. Carapazza rang him up. 

Encarnacion, who rarely argues or shows emotion in such situations, was incredulous, as he should have been, and aggressively approached the umpire, who immediately ejected him. After the ejection, as Carapazza turned away, Encarenacion bumped the umpire’s shoulder, which will likely draw a suspension.

“It was another situation where Eddie doesn’t get personal with him,” Martin said. “He talks about the pitch and what he feels about the pitch. It’s tough as a player when the umpire makes a mistake and you kind of say your piece about it and then you get thrown out for being right. It’s tough. 

“I think umpires just need to sometimes take a deep breath and not kind of flip the switch too quick, because Eddie didn’t need to get thrown out right there in that situation either. So hopefully (Carapazza) gets talked to and has the veteran umpires kind of tell him that there’s a certain way to do things.” 

The Jays struck out 18 times – 12 on called strikes. To put it generously, Carapazza was calling the high strike all day. He was erratic on the edges, calling a wide zone in the early going and then seeimgly tightening it in the later stages.

“He’s probably doing the best that he can,” Martin said. “We all saw what he had today.”

Carapazza has been a full-time major-league umpire since 2013. His father-in-law is Richie Garcia, a former MLB umpire and former umpiring supervisor. 

When Encarnacion left, Devon Travis replaced him as the Jays’ DH. Then in the 19th inning, Travis had to play second base when Barney came in to pitch, leaving the team without a DH.

Hale, who ran the club after Gibbons was tossed, said he and the other coaches discussed using a starter when they ran out of relievers but decided against it. Cleveland used Saturday’s scheduled starter, Trevor Bauer, for the final five innings. Hale said he never considered using the Jays’ Saturday starter, Marco Estrada, because Estrada has been experiencing back tightness.

Martin said Goins and Barney did a good job under the circumstances. Goins got out of a second-and-third jam in the 18th by coaxing a double-play grounder from Chris Gimenez.

“At that point you don’t like their draws, but the way they handled themselves on the mound was awesome,” Martin said. “They were throwing strikes, getting ahead, even throwing some breaking balls and some changeups. I think the changeup to Gimenez was probably the biggest pitch of the night, a ground-ball double play, and at that time, every time you come up with no runs and then you’re going back having an opportunity to win, you feel pretty good about it. We just weren’t able to come through.”

The Jays were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left the bases loaded twice.