Gardenhire ejected by Wendelstedt -- no surprise, considering their history
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thursday night's ALDS Game 2 experience was a shortened one for Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the top of the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Knowing the history between Wendelstedt and Gardenhire, the ejection came as no surprise.
With the game tied 2-2, a runner on first base, nobody out, and a 2-2 count to Lance Berkman, Carl Pavano painted the inside corner with a fastball, but Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball. Pavano walked off the mound in disgust, and Berkman deposited the next pitch off the wall in left-center to put the Yankees up, 3-2.
Gardenhire trotted out to chat with Pavano -- the manager had a hunch Brett Gardner was going to lay down a bunt and wanted to talk to his infielders -- but wound up also barking at Wendelstedt on the way back to the dugout. Wendelstedt quickly pulled the ejection trigger, and Gardenhire -- who last August sarcastically called Wendelstedt "the god of umpires" -- provided an earful before eventually walking back into the clubhouse.
After the game, Gardenhire didn't want to discuss the controversial non-call.
"Let's just talk about baseball here, all right?" Gardenhire said. "We didn't get it done tonight. They got it done."
The same for Pavano.
"I don't think it affected the whole inning at all, actually," the veteran said. "Leadoff walks. You can't do that within the game, especially against this team. Posada worked the leadoff walk, and Berkman hit a good pitch. That's the way I see it. My job is to go out there and make good pitches after that, and I didn't do it."
As for Gardenhire and Wendelstedt, the two have a testy history.
On August 8, 2009, Gardenhire had choice words after being ejected in the second inning by Wendelstedt in Detroit. The Twins were upset about a series of events early in the game, as well as a few close ball and strike calls.
Per the Star Tribune, the manager said Wendelstedt asked, "How do you like that?" after tossing him.
"That's the second time I've run into this, with this guy," Gardenhire said in Detroit. "He's got an attitude. At home a few years back he said, 'You're just out here for showtime.' He's got a smart mouth, and tonight was ridiculous, really."
Wendelstedt snapped back, through the media, "I would challenge [Gardenhire] to sit down and watch the replays. Because he was wrong. ... I'm going to invite him to my umpire school. If he wants to learn what a balk is, he can come down in January to umpire school and we'll teach him."
Regarding the balls and strikes on August 8, Wendelstedt added, "when I get my ball-and-strike disk, I'll bet I'm 97-99 percent, and we'll look at that tomorrow."
The "showtime" incident Gardenhire refers to happened in July, 2005, when Wendelstedt called Joe Mauer out on a borderline high fastball.
"He bounced me from the dugout," Gardenhire said in '05. "The pitch was high. That's all I said, and he threw me out of the game. And then he tells me all I wanted was showtime. He can kiss my [expletive].
"The pitch was high. That's all I said. And then (Wendelstedt) tells me I want showtime. That was very unprofessional ... the wrong thing for him to say. What he ought to do is get knocked (expletive). You can print that one, too.
"I'm going to call Bob Watson. `You want showtime.' That's a bad statement by an umpire. I'm on TV every night. I don't need that stuff."
Gardenhire added, "I expect more than that from a major league umpire, especially from a guy who comes from a baseball family. His father [Harry] was a great umpire, but I have no respect for [Hunter] anymore."
Still, after Thursday night's game, Gardenhire refused to reflect on his previous encounters with the home plate umpire.
"It has nothing to do with it," Gardenhire said. "Hunter and I talked and we kind of straightened all our stuff away.
"I wanted to get him away from my guys, because there are a lot of guys full of emotion at that time and I wanted Carl to concentrate."