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Pillar tossed for first career ejection

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Pillar was ejected for the first time in his career Tuesday against the Rays in the early stages of a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

Pillar took a called first-pitch strike from Chris Archer in the third inning that didn't sit well with him, he said. Jogging on his way back to the dugout after grounding out to short, Pillar told home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild what he thought about that first call. The umpire turned around and ejected the Blue Jays outfielder, who then had an argument before leaving the field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Pillar was ejected for the first time in his career Tuesday against the Rays in the early stages of a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

Pillar took a called first-pitch strike from Chris Archer in the third inning that didn't sit well with him, he said. Jogging on his way back to the dugout after grounding out to short, Pillar told home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild what he thought about that first call. The umpire turned around and ejected the Blue Jays outfielder, who then had an argument before leaving the field.

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"As I ran by home plate, I offered my opinion on what I thought the first pitch of the at-bat was," Pillar said. "All I said was, 'The first pitch was terrible.' That's it. Didn't raise my voice, didn't use any profanity."

The ejection stunned Pillar and the Blue Jays. Manager John Gibbons expressed surprise after the game.

"First at-bat, first pitch of the night for you … I mean, you can't get thrown out of the ballgame there," Gibbons said.

Pillar had just one at-bat before the third-inning ejection. Ezequiel Carrera took over in center field in Pillar's place and made an error in the fifth inning that allowed Evan Longoria to move to third on a double. Longoria later scored on an infield single.

The early shower disappointed Pillar for a number of reasons. For one, his spot in the order came up in the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position and the Blue Jays down a run. Secondly, his childhood idol Derek Jeter was never ejected in his career and Pillar wanted to take pride someday in achieving the same.

But most important, Pillar just wanted to compete.

"It's hard, coming off an off-day and coming off a series where I felt like I was swinging the bat really well," Pillar said. "I was really looking forward to getting out here and facing Archer. I didn't get an opportunity to face him last time. I was really just looking forward to going out there and kind of building off of the individual success that I had in Chicago."

Pillar had two hits in each of the three games against the Cubs last weekend, with three RBIs and an outstanding catch in which he crashed into the brick centre-field wall.

"It's just unfortunate the way the game kind of unfolded," Pillar said. "My spot comes up in that big situation and I'm sitting in here confused and stunned by the whole situation, and just really wishing I was out there being in a position to help our team win a game."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Pillar