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Tigers deny hitting umpire on purpose after Indians broadcast fuels speculation

The Detroit Tigers are denying allegations that pitcher Buck Farmer purposely hit umpire Quinn Wolcott with a pitch during Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians.

The incident came into question because it almost immediately followed the third-inning ejections of Tigers catcher James McCann and manager Brad Ausmus, both of whom were upset with Wolcott’s strike zone. Speculation was further fueled when the Indians television broadcast suggested the pitch “would raise eyebrows” around the league.

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With new catcher John Hicks behind the plate, Farmer proceeded to walk Carlos Santana to load the bases. It was the first pitch to the following batter, Yandy Diaz, that caused the stir as it sailed past Hicks’ glove and struck Wolcott in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground.

Wolcott was tended to on the field but remained in the game. Some viewers suggested an umpires huddle afterward was to determine whether or not there was a purpose behind the pitch, but Wolcott never seemed intent on making that charge or escalating the issue.

Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott argues with Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann moments before being hit by a questionable pitch. (AP)

Nonetheless, Brad Ausmus was not pleased when he heard the Indians broadcast implied there was intent behind the pitch, which led to this response following the game.

“I heard the Indians broadcast. To imply that that was intentional is, first of all, a lie. If any player on this team intentionally tried to hurt an umpire, we’d deal with that severely. But for anyone to imply that that was intentional, that’s completely wrong. They’re out of line saying that, quite frankly.”

Farmer was also quick to deny allegations the pitch was on purpose to the media. He later backed them up on Twitter.

The timing of the incident obviously wasn’t good, but even as the Tigers frustration mounts there’s no reason to believe Farmer or anyone else in the Tigers dugout would make that call or stoop to that level. There’s nothing to be gained within the game, as the pitch could have easily led to a run scoring. There’s even more to be lost on a personal and professional level by earning a suspension and ultimately a reputation as a headhunter willing to go after umpires.

The more logical explanation is the one we’re hearing from the Tigers, and that’s a simple mix up occurred between pitcher and catcher. It’s something that happens frequently in baseball, and sometimes results in an umpire wearing it. It wouldn’t be a surprise here either considering the Tigers were forced to change catchers in the middle of an inning.

The Indians went on to win the game 5-3, thus extending their winning streak to a record tying 21 games. That’s where the focus should be, and we hope that’s where it goes now that the Tigers have addressed the issue.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!