St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina didn’t receive an ejection Sunday, but he still could face a suspension. Molina was involved in a benches-clearing fracas in which he made contact with an umpire. Despite that, Molina was allowed to stay in the game.
The incident took place at the start of the second inning. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock worked a 3-2 count against Luke Weaver, but struck out looking on a low fastball. Pollock didn’t like the call and began arguing with the umpire. Pollock wasn’t letting up, which prompted D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo to step in. Lovullo was promptly tossed, as managers are not allowed to argue balls and strikes.
Lovullo began giving the ump a piece of his mind before leaving the field. At some point in the conversation, he gestured over to Molina. The 35-year-old catcher then pushed and shoved at the ump in an attempt to go after Lovullo. It wasn’t really a violent push. It was more Molina getting into a “hold me back” position using the ump as a shield.
That caused the benches to clear. It was a fairly tepid affair. No punches were thrown. Other than Molina, everyone involved seemed pretty calm.
Once cooler heads prevailed, the umps met to discuss punishment. After a quick conference, Molina was allowed to stay in the game.
That was a surprising outcome to even the Cardinals announcers, who suggested the D-Backs should have played the game under protest since Molina remained in the game. They also suggested Lovullo was angry because he believed Molina was getting some questionable calls.
Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com agreed with that assessment. Field mics made it sound like Lovullo tossed an expletive in Molina’s direction for stealing strikes.
Yes, that is what it sounds like. "You can't let that motherf—– make balls into strikes." I don't blame Lovullo for being fired up. He went out to keep his player from getting ejected and was ejected himself before he barely got out there. https://t.co/Medx025lFL
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) April 8, 2018
Lovullo wasn’t just frustrated over one pitch. In the first inning, David Peralta was also called out on a low strike with a 3-2 count. Lovullo believed Molina had stolen two significant strikes in the first two innings of the contest.
While Molina avoided an ejection, he still could miss some games. Molina didn’t go after the umpire, but he pushed and shoved him. That’s usually an automatic suspension, ejection and fine. Major League Baseball is pretty strict when it comes to umps. Players can argue with them, but they cannot make contact. Molina definitely violated that rule.
Molina stayed in the game, but the D-Backs got the last laugh. Arizona won the contest 4-1. It was a good thing Lovullo protected Pollock, as the outfielder added to the team’s lead with a solo home run in the eighth.
To make matters worse for the Cardinals, the team is set to take on the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. Depending on how quickly the appeals process goes, Molina could miss a big game or two for his actions Sunday.
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