The Milwaukee Brewers frustrations with home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook were the underlying theme of Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. And the inevitable explosion from manager Craig Counsell was all of the talk afterward.
Counsell will likely be facing some form of discipline from the league after his heated face-to-face — and at some points head-to-head — argument with Estabrook resulted in some light physical contact being made.
Crew chief Paul Emmel indicated as much after the game, though his wording wasn’t a straight up indictment of Counsell.
Emmel did say he could see that Estabrook and Counsell touched each other but wouldn't say who was the aggressor. I have the feeling that won't work out well for Counsell.— Tom (@Haudricourt) May 25, 2019
Counsell was ejected after Lorenzo Cain’s eighth-inning at-bat against Phillies starter Jake Arrieta, which the Brewers felt included two critical missed calls. Cain ended up grounding out on a 3-2 pitch while representing the tying run.
The confrontation started somewhat calmly, but quickly escalated.
Soon, Counsell and Estabrook were going chest-to-chest, while the bill of Counsell’s cap jammed into the umpire’s forehead every few seconds.
The contact, slight as it was, will not be ignored by the league.
But neither will the calls Milwaukee thought Estabrook missed.
More Cain: "You saw it. You saw where the pitches were located. It definitely could have been a game-changer if I walk there and bring Yeli to the plate and see what happens."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) May 25, 2019
Christian Yelich would have represented the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the 8th.
Here’s a look at why Cain was so upset.
Here's how Gameday saw the Lorenzo Cain at-bat that preceded Craig Counsell's ejection by plate ump Mike Estabrook. Cain took issue with both called strikes in red. pic.twitter.com/IUZQ1FiEQb— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) May 25, 2019
Cain’s at-bat was the boiling point for Counsell, but his ejection wasn’t the only one for Milwaukee.
Earlier in the game, Ryan Braun was also tossed by Estabrook for arguing balls and strikes.
Ryan Braun: "Jake Arrieta is really good. His stuff is really good. Today, he was really good. He didn’t need extra help."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) May 25, 2019
Even the beat writers weren’t hesitating to go in on Estabrook. That’s when you know an umpire has become too much of the story.
#Brewers hitters no match for combination of Jake Arrieta and Mike Estabrook today. If Arrieta missed with a close pitch, Estabrook gave it to him too often. Terrible performance by home plate ump.— Tom (@Haudricourt) May 25, 2019
The Brewers were plenty frustrated by Arrieta too. They did little against him for six innings, but managed to scratch out single runs in the seventh and eighth. That cut Philadelphia’s lead to two. But between Cain’s ground out and the Phillies’ three-run ninth-inning outburst, the Brewers dropped their second straight to open the series.
All parties involved will back for the series finale on Sunday, though this time Estabrook will be manning third base. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail by then.
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