Confusing Ruling, Angry Umpire Leads to Rare Double Ejection

In a scene that was equal parts fascinating and baffling, the Guardians, Angels, and home plate umpire Ron Kulpa created an unforgettable moment on Monday.

In the bottom of the 7th, looking to build on a 5-4 lead, the Guardians had runners on first and second with two outs when Andres Gimenez check swung at a backdoor curveball. As catcher Max Stassi appealed the swing, Gimenez began to argue that the pitch had hit him on the foot. Cleveland manager Terry Francona asked Kulpa to check with his crew if any of them had seen the pitch hit him. Kulpa spoke to his first base umpire, then spoke to Francona, who was growing visibly agitated. Kulpa returned to the field and gathered all of the infield crew for a short meeting, then the group dispersed and Kulpa made a gesture towards Francona to signal that there was no hit-by-pitch. Francona emerged from the dugout, furious, and was ejected by Kulpa. The two would eventually have to be separated, and Francona left the game. It was strange to witness Francona, known as a calming presence in the clubhouse, going ballistic over a seemingly minor issue. On replay, it did seem like the pitch missed Gimenez, but his problem was clearly with the way Kulpa handled the play.

The game would only get stranger from there, though. As tempers cooled and players were getting ready to resume play, reliever Ryan Tepera attempted to throw a warm-up pitch to his catcher after the five-minute or so delay. Yet Kulpa, clearly still agitated after his altercation with Francona, quickly stopped him from behind the plate. When Tepera presumably asked why, he seemed to respond with the words “I said so” and began to walk aggressively towards the mound. Angels manager Phil Nevin came to speak with Kulpa, and after a brief argument he was ejected too, in what may have been the first instance in baseball history of two managers being ejected without a single pitch being thrown between the two ejections, outside of a benches-clearing brawl situation.

It may have been a recipe for disaster, putting Kulpa, Francona and Nevin in a stadium together. The Guardians are in the home stretch of a pennant race, where every baserunner could mean the difference between making the playoffs or not, while the Angels are enduring another frustrating year of wasting the primes of two of the best players of this generation. Pairing Kulpa with those two teams practically guaranteed some sparks flying. Kulpa has established a reputation over his career for his short temper, as well as his tendency to act disrespectfully towards players and managers. In fact, this was not Francona’s first run-in with Ron.

Funnily enough, Tepera would get his wish in the end: he had plenty of time to throw some warm-up pitches while his manager was arguing with Kulpa. The Guardians held on for the 5-4 win, and Kulpa also wound up leaving the game early after being hit with a foul ball in the 9th.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports