Detroit — First, it was the Mariners who didn’t appreciate home-plate umpire Carlos Torres.
Kyle Seager had a first-inning debate with Torres after Seager had been called on a third strike to end the Mariners’ half of the first in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tigers, which Seattle won, 9-5, at Comerica Park.
Then it was the Tigers’ turn to duel Torres in a verbal dogfight.
Tigers starter Michael Fulmer didn’t appreciate a ball-four call in the third on one-time Tigers handyman Andrew Romine, who now plays for the Mariners. There were words, not only between Fulmer and Torres, but between Tigers catcher James McCann and the ump.
A half-inning later, the sniping involved Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire and Torres, the home-plate magistrate who was soon seen raising his thumb, indicating the Tigers skipper could spend the remainder of the night in his office.
Steve Liddle, the Tigers bench coach who became Gardenhire’s temporary successor after Gardenhire was sent to his dressing room, was diplomatic, saying “it’s a hard job” umpiring behind home plate.
“But,” he said, “Ronny’s going to protect his players.”
In this case, those players were Fulmer and McCann.
“The problem I had with Carlos,” said Fulmer, who lasted only until the fifth, and who was tagged for five hits and six runs, “is after Romine walked I asked if he had the pitch up or in to Romine.
“He told McCann he didn’t know, he couldn’t tell.
“I just had a problem with him saying he didn’t know where a pitch was.”
The war didn’t end there.
Fulmer was seen jawing with Torres as he headed for the dugout, immediately after Robinson Cano had planted a Fulmer change-up 419 feet into the right-center field seats to put the Mariners up, 6-2.
“He asked if I was pinning all those runs on him,” Fulmer recounted. “I said, absolutely not. We just wanted pitches called both ways.
“He wanted the last word,” Fulmer said, referring to Torres. “And I think that’s why Gardy was thrown out.”
The skipper, as it turned out, was going to have his own last word — even if it was his last act Saturday night as manager in the second game of a doubleheader that had seen the Tigers win the opener, 4-3.
McCann agreed umpires weren’t the difference in Saturday night’s finale. Fulmer, fundamentally, hadn’t been sharp.
“A little erratic,” McCann said. “Not the same consistency as far as command. You saw how his pitch-count (98, including 31 in the first inning) climbed.”
As for his own discussion with Torres, which spanned several batters and innings?
“It was civil,” Fulmer said.
“My point, which is what got Gardy tossed, is we wanted the same strikes for us he was calling for them.”
Nick Castellanos could be the next of the Tigers’ bigger guns to miss a day or more.
He was hit by a Felix Hernandez pitch in the first inning, which bruised the pinky finger on his left hand.
“X-rays didn’t show anything (fracture), but he’s sore,” Liddle said. “We caught a break in that there were no breaks.”
Castellanos was gone after the first inning and was replaced by Victor Reyes.
The Tigers made it through Saturday’s two games — barely. They used four pitchers in the first game. They used seven in the second, including a second helping of Buck Farmer.
The bullpen cooperated nicely in the opener: scoreless relief from Farmer, Joe Jimenez, and Shane Greene, who got his eighth save, albeit with some marvelous defensive help from center fielder JaCoby Jones.
They were nearly as good in the evening game – if you ignore Daniel Stumpf’s lamentable one-third of an inning, which saw him get blasted for four hits and three runs.
Otherwise, noble, scoreless work from Warwick Saupold, Ryan Carpenter, rookie Zac Reininger, and Louis Coleman, who was brought on Saturday from Triple-A Toledo and who worked 1⅔ innings, allowing a hit, walking one batter, hitting another, but otherwise striking out a Mariners hitter and pitching shutout ball.
Coleman had pitched in 213 big-league games, mostly with the Royals, but had not thrown anywhere but in the minors since 2015, the year he had Tommy John surgery.
He signed with the Tigers in February as a minor-league free agent.
Around the horn
John Hicks had three hits, including a long homer, in the second game and now is batting .290 on the season with four home runs. He played first base in both of Saturday’s games.
... Pete Kozma, who arrived with the Tigers last week from Triple A, had a RBI double and a RBI single and is batting .571 in his brief return to the big leagues. Kozma, who homered Thursday against the Cardinals, had a long earlier career with the Cardinals.
More known as a defensive whiz, Kozma made a shimmering play in the third when he scooted hard to his left to grab a ground ball hit by Haniger.
Boring full-throttle toward the third-base line, he whipped a snap-throw to second to force Dee Gordon.