Sparks fly in Toronto after Gardner ejected

August 10th, 2019

TORONTO -- The last time slammed his bat into a dugout roof, it spawned countless T-shirts playing off the phrase "Savages in the Box." This latest installment -- let's call it "I Didn't Say One Word" -- probably will not have the same marketing potential.

Gardner was ejected by home-plate umpire Chris Segal in the top of the fourth inning of Friday's 8-2 loss at Rogers Centre, ostensibly for arguing balls and strikes. The ejection came after Gardner banged his bat in response to a pair of questionable calls against and .

"I didn’t even open my mouth, which is unusual for me," Gardner said. "He was looking in the left-center-field bullpen and threw me out. He wanted to assume or wanted to take a guess, and he was wrong. Then he lied to me about it, which is a huge problem, and that’s what made me a little upset." 

 Television replays showed Gardner protesting to Segal that he had not said anything to warrant an ejection; in fact, manager Aaron Boone, bench coach Josh Bard and Maybin appeared to be the ones chirping from the dugout.

 "I told him I didn't say anything, which is true, I didn’t say anything," Gardner said. "Then he told me I did say something, that he saw me say something. That’s what irritated me, because I knew I didn’t. I got pretty angry."

 As a result, Boone had to hold back Gardner from making contact with Segal. Boone initially believed that he had been the one ejected, and upon learning that it was Gardner, hoped to convince the crew to toss him instead.

 "Gardy is as competitive and as fiery as they come," Boone said. "If you’re going to get kicked out of a game, you want it to be justified and warranted, so I understand how fired up he was. And I found out how strong he was trying to hold him back, man. He’s quicker than me, he’s faster, younger, stronger … All of it."

 Approached by a pool reporter after the game, crew chief Dan Iassogna had little to say.

 "I won’t comment on any ejection that happened out on the field," Iassogna said. "It will be put on our report, and we will put in what happened on the field, and we will watch the tape."

 Gardner said that following the ejection, Iassogna mentioned his habit of banging the bat against the roof. To that, Gardner said he replied, "Is that against the rules or not?"

 "What’s he going to say? He can’t say, 'Yeah,'" Gardner said.

 Gardner does not expect to be fined or suspended, and lamented that there is likely no recourse against Segal, a Triple-A umpire who was summoned to the Majors as a vacation replacement.

 "Just be better. Be better at your job," Gardner said. "It’s just an example of a young umpire and the game getting too fast for him."

 After Gardner slowly made his way to the clubhouse, Tauchman continued his at-bat and belted his 12th home run of the season, a solo blast off Sean Reid-Foley that cut Toronto’s lead to 3-1.

"I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything like an incidental contact or anything that could cause [Gardner] to miss some time, because obviously he's incredibly important to our team," Tauchman said. "Then it's trying to refocus in the at-bat."

 The episode was reminiscent of the fireworks on July 18 in New York, when Boone was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with rookie umpire Brennan Miller, offering the now-famous "savages" comment that would soon thereafter be emblazoned on polyester-cotton blends across the tri-state area.

With Gardner tossed, entered the game in right field, his envisioned day off having lasted only three full innings. Tauchman remained in the game in center field, and Maybin moved to left field.

"Judgey was finally getting a much needed day off, and he has to go in the game in the fourth inning because of what happened," Gardner said. "That makes me madder than anything. The last thing I would do is do anything to intentionally get thrown out and him having to come off the bench like that. Just a frustrating night all around."