Detroit — The Tigers had scored a run off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw to cut the deficit to 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday. Victor Martinez was at second and J.D. Martinez at the plate.
Suddenly Brad Ausmus popped out of the dugout, motioning for home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus to check something on Shaw’s hand.
“He had his wedding ring on, which is great,” Ausmus said. “I’m glad he’s happily married — and I personally don’t think he was trying to do anything to doctor the ball. But when he was getting the ball, he was rubbing it up with that hand, the one with the ring.
“I just wanted it off. I have to protect my players, too.”
As it turned out, the ring was made of rubber. Ausmus didn’t know that until he went out a second time. Indians manager Terry Francona, who was summoned to the mound by the umpires, was not pleased. He glared at Ausmus on his way back to the dugout.
“I think they were saying he was scuffing the ball but his wedding ring is rubber,” Francona said. “After they OK’d it, I thought it was a bit much coming out and delaying the game. I didn’t think that was completely fair.”
Shaw wound up striking out Martinez for the second out, but he walked Nick Castellanos and Jarrod Saltalamachhia to load the bases with two outs. Francona pulled him after that for right-hander Jeff Manship.
Manship got pinch-hitter Miguel Cabrera to foul out to end the threat.
Shaw thought Ausmus was resorting to some gamesmanship.
“Obviously, they’ve been scuffling a little bit,” he said. “They’d lost the last couple of games to us and I think he was trying to nitpick and find something to throw us off a little.”
The second interruption by Ausmus seemed to miff Shaw, too.
“I feel like he made his point the first time,” Shaw said. “The umpires checked my ring. It’s a rubber ring. If you can find a way to scuff a ball with a rubber ring, more power to you. I’ve had it on the last 2 1/2 years and nobody’s said a word about it from any team.
“I’ve pitched against them with it on the past 2 1/2 years. So like I said, they’re struggling a little bit and I think he’s just trying to find something to nitpick about and throw us off.”