Yankees score on balk; Ausmus ejected
After seeing video, Tigers manager says umpire made the correct call
DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez looked like he had found the way out of his jam Thursday afternoon against the Yankees. Instead, it was Tigers manager Brad Ausmus who took the exit after Sanchez's game-tying balk.
Detroit ended up taking the 2-1 loss, and Ausmus later took the blame for arguing the call.
"After seeing the replay, he balked," Ausmus said.
Both the call and the subsequent ejection came from third-base umpire Gerry Davis, just after Sanchez erased a sixth-inning sacrifice-fly opportunity by striking out Carlos Beltran for the third time in the game. With two outs and cleanup hitter Brian McCann up, Jacoby Ellsbury took an aggressive lead off third and convinced Sanchez that he was breaking for home.
"I just worked really carefully, because I know that he's stolen home before," Sanchez said. "In that situation, he's got a lot of room, so when I saw him take a couple steps, I just tried to do everything quickly."
From there, Sanchez seemingly changed in mid-delivery from a pitch to a pitchout, leading to yells of balk from the Yankees' dugout.
"I was getting ready to go," Ellsbury said. "I initially took off, then he stepped off and I stopped. I was like, 'Whoa!'"
The Yankees and Tigers have a history of disputes over balks. New York manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument a couple years ago for claiming that Al Alburquerque balks whenever he throws over, a charge the Tigers vehemently denied. In Sanchez's case, the question was whether he stepped off the rubber before he pitched out.
"He started, and then he kind of stepped off," Girardi said. "He started to go. This foot went this way, and then this foot went that way."
In this case, Davis agreed with Girardi, calling the balk and bringing home Ellsbury to make it a 1-1 game. However, the call came several seconds after the play in question, leading to speculation whether the Yankees talked him into the call.
"I took a couple seconds to process what I saw," Davis said. "I wanted to be sure he had started his delivery before I made the call."
Said Ausmus: "It wasn't smooth, in terms of the timing. But he got the call right, so you can't really argue it."
Ausmus did argue, emerging from the Tigers' dugout to talk with Davis and plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. After an exchange of words, Davis ejected Ausmus on his way back to the dugout.
"He told me it was my run," Davis said, "so I threw him out."
It was shortly after that when Ausmus saw the replay in the clubhouse.
"At the time, I thought Sanchie had stepped off with his right foot, which would make it not be a balk," Ausmus said. "But when I saw the replay, his left foot moved prior to him moving his right foot, which makes it a balk."
It was Ausmus' first ejection this season and the fourth of his brief managerial career. Bench coach Gene Lamont took over managerial duties. Sanchez stayed in to finish the inning and pitched into the seventh.