CLEVELAND -- Emotions escalated at home plate at Progressive Field on Saturday night, making for a heated scene that culminated in a loud home run from A's designated hitter Billy Butler.The fourth-inning solo blast, which temporarily tied a game the Indians would ultimately claim, 6-3, followed a spat between Butler
CLEVELAND -- Emotions escalated at home plate at Progressive Field on Saturday night, making for a heated scene that culminated in a loud home run from A's designated hitter Billy Butler.
The fourth-inning solo blast, which temporarily tied a game the Indians would ultimately claim, 6-3, followed a spat between Butler and catcher Chris Gimenez, who Butler believed to be "asking for a little bit too much" from home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson in terms of strike calls.
Gibson calmed matters, while Butler simply took them into his own hands, launching the 3-2 offering from Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin that Statcast™ estimated at 442 feet to left field.
The show didn't stop there: Butler turned to bark at Gimenez before embarking on his trot, setting off a bat flip that Gimenez took exception with, leading him to yell back.
Gibson issued a warning to both sides.
"It's just tempers flaring," said Butler, who was greeted by boos from the Indians' faithful during his final at-bats. "That's this game. We're competitive. I had an issue with him, he took a little bit of issue with me, we got it out of the way."
Butler didn't delve into specifics like Gimenez, who believed Butler took exception to a called strike on a 1-1 pitch. Gimenez admittedly had qualms about a ball call on the next pitch.
"I just made kind of an 'Oof' sound like that," Gimenez said. "I try to be respectful to the umpire and talk about it man to man to him. He didn't like how I was talking to the umpire and I just said, 'Hey, man, if you don't like it … That was a strike.' The one after, I thought it was a good pitch. He was like, 'You can't have both of them.' I just took offense to it. Just competitive juices. We both want to win right there."
Gimenez also expressed his displeasure toward the bat flip, but took even more offense to Butler's post-homer chirpings.
"I was definitely not thrilled that he turned around and screamed in my face," Gimenez said. "I just let him know that I'd be waiting for him when he got back. And then the umpire kind of got involved. I had to kind of think about, 'Would my wife want me or want my kids to see me doing something right now?' Thankfully nothing happened. Like I said, that's the game. Competitiveness. We're in the heat of a pennant race. Things like that are going to happen."
Added Butler: "I've got no personal problem with Chris. It was a professional problem."
Butler has made plenty noise with his bat lately, going 6-for-10 on this road trip and 34-for-104 (.327) dating back to May 28, despite inconsistent playing time. Saturday's solo shot was just his fourth home run.
"That's about as far as we've seen him hit a ball," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't know if it upset him or not, but he put a good swing on it. He's been swinging good regardless recently."
"Getting some consistent hits here," Butler said, "I've shown what I can do, exactly on par with what my career says I've done."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.