By: Will Burchfield
Both Brad Ausmus and Buck Farmer adamantly denied the idea that Farmer intentionally hit home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott with a fastball after Wolcott had ejected Ausmus and James McCann in the third inning of the Tigers’ 5-3 loss to the Indians on Wednesday.
It appeared that catcher John Hicks was crossed up on the pitch in question, expecting a breaking ball down and away. He got a 92 mph fastball instead, which sailed past him and drilled Wolcott in the left shoulder, knocking the umpire to the dirt.
The commentators on the Indians broadcast wondered if Farmer and Hicks had planned the incident, and Wolcott had some doubts of his own.
While receiving treatment from a trainer and talking things over with his crew, Wolcott appeared to ask, “They didn’t do it on purpose, did they?”
Ausmus was having none of that theory.
“I heard the Indians broadcast. To imply that that was intentional is, first of all, a lie,” Ausmus told reporters, via MLive. “If any player on this team intentionally tried to hurt an umpire, we’d deal with that severely. But for anyone to imply that that was intentional, that’s completely wrong…They’re out of line saying that, quite frankly.”
Farmer echoed his manager in vehement fashion.
“It shouldn’t be a question,” Farmer said. “Just look at the situation. It’s stupid to even think about. It shouldn’t even be a thought from anybody that Hicks and I would do that. Anybody that’s thinking that should be ashamed.”
Farmer also defended himself via Twitter.
Wolcott and the Tigers were going back and forth throughout the first three innings. Miguel Cabrera took issue with a called third strike in the top of the third and later shouted at Wolcott from the dugout after Jeimer Candelario was called out on a borderline pitch to end the inning.
In the bottom half, Jay Bruce drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch that was just outside. At that point, McCann turned around and voiced his displeasure with Wolcott.
“All I said was, ‘I want the same strike zone that they’re getting. I don’t care about their win streak, where we are in the standings. We deserve the same pitches called strikes that they’re getting called strikes,'” he told reporters.
McCann went on, “He said he’d had enough of me arguing balls and strikes. And I said I’ve had enough of not getting strikes.”
Wolcott ejected McCann, at which point Ausmus came running out of the dugout.
In his argument with Wolcott, Ausmus could be heard saying, “Don’t get caught up in the Cleveland Indians winning 20 games. I want the same strike zone for both teams.”
The Indians, of course, entered play having ripped off 20 straight wins.
“I think we felt like there was a discrepancy in the strike zone between the two teams early in the game,” Ausmus said. “It’s hard enough to beat the Indians all things being equal. We felt like we weren’t getting some calls that they were.”
Former MLB pitcher Dallas Braden isn’t so sure the incident involving Farmer, Hicks and Wolcott was an accident.
“Sure, that ball’s got some serious east-to-west movement on it, late. It was late. It’s also the big leagues. No leather at all?” Braden asked. “Hmmm.”
Wolcott, 31, is in his fourth season as a full-time MLB umpire.