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Ausmus tirade against umpire worthy of stage award

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
After being ejected, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus  puts his sweatshirt on home plate in the fourth inning.

Detroit — There was no script, no planned choreography for Monday night’s Thespian-pleasing tantrum from Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

As they say: You can’t make this up.

It’s why the Tigers players were beaming, almost naughtily, in their clubhouse after a team that had blown an 8-0 lead came back to whip the Twins, 10-8, at Comerica Park — minus their manager, who had been tossed from the game in the fourth inning as part of an epic outburst at home plate.

“I think the whole team was fired up at that time,” said Justin Verlander, who had a dugout seat for Ausmus’ apoplexy, which came after a called third strike on Nick Castellanos, the latest in what had been a series of disputes with home-plate umpire Doug Eddings.

“Things are a little hot for us right now. Emotions came out.”

Ausmus had been jawing with Eddings from the dugout before the Castellanos call and strikeout sent him into overdrive. Eddings responded with a thumb. Ausmus took about three strides that covered 50 feet in a particle of a second as he lit into Eddings.

After expending much of his vocabulary, Ausmus stomped to the batter’s box, pulled off his hooded sweatshirt and draped it across home plate — a protest against, and depiction of, an angry manager’s sense for Eddings’ strike zone.

Where was this slice of stagecraft on a scale of all-time managerial tizzies, Verlander was asked.

“It was up there,” the Tigers ace responded, with a Verlander-grade grin.

Ausmus explained later that his ire over Eddings’ strikes-balls judgment was not particular to Castellanos’ call-out.

“When seven or eight guys are complaining,” he said, “they can’t all be wrong.”

Castellanos might have been spared his own ejection as Ausmus raced to home plate, or, as the Tigers then saw it, to the crime scene.

Castellanos later hit a home run that became the Tigers’ winning run. It was all part of a crazy evening, he said. And at the heart of a comeback might have been memories of a manager’s tirade.

“He’s got our back,” Castellanos said. “You went to battle for me, I’m going to battle for you.”

The Tigers third baseman said all the fourth-inning drama was easily and innocently explained.

“I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy,” Castellanos explained as postgame reporters mined him for insight into a near-historic managerial meltdown. “And I’m gonna let him (Eddings) know I pretty mild-mannerly disagreed.”

His manager handled duties there.

And a team of Tigers loved every minute of it.

“That was just great — good for him,” said Andrew Romine, another of the Tigers’ dugout denizens who had a ringside seat for the Ausmus-Eddings bout.

“Hey, we’re entertainers, right?

“You’ve got to let your anger out somewhere, right?

“You might as well do it at the umpires.”

Ausmus did it. And, however a rugged season plays out for him and for the Tigers, it says much about a game, and its spirit, that Monday night’s solo will be regarded as classic baseball theater.

The clubhouse critics loved it.