Astros ace Justin Verlander tossed for arguing about strike zone, thinks ejection was unwarranted

Justin Verlander’s dominant outing against the Rays Tuesday (HOU 15, TB 1) was cut short when he was ejected in the sixth inning by home plate umpire Pat Hoberg for arguing the strike zone. The Astros ace expressed his displeasure on Hoberg’s called ball on a 2-2 fastball to Rays outfielder Tommy Pham

Pham then doubled to center field on Verlander’s next pitch. With one out and the Astros leading 9-0, Verlander chirped at Hoberg a few times before turning his back and walking back to the mound. It was then that Hoberg tossed him.

Now, here’s a closer look at the pitch:

Justin Verlander thought he had rung up Tommy Pham on pitch 5. On pitch 6, Tommy Pham hit a double. Verlander went straight at Pat Hoberg after the hit was struck and yelled at him. Hoberg tossed him.

— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) August 28, 2019

Verlander’s frustration likely had to do with Hoberg possibly calling that same pitch a strike earlier in the game. But it was whatever Verlander yelled out right before turning around to head back to the mound that was enough to push Hoberg for an ejection.

“I didn’t really think it was warranted,” Verlander said after the game. “As an umpire, I think Pat needs to understand this is an emotional game, and sometimes when things don’t go your way, you let the umpire know it. I thought I did it in about as respectful a way as I could where my emotions were at. As the play was developing, I told him I thought it was a strike. He told me it was a ball. That went on back and forth for a little bit, and I turned my back and expressed one more time I didn’t think it was outside.

“I probably could have had better language when I said that, but in my history with umpires, I think turning my back to the situation, I’m trying to just vent at this point. I never called him a name. I never said anything egregious toward him. I just expressed my displeasure with the call on the field, and unfortunately he made the decision to run me.”

Verlander allowed four hits and struck out four over 5 1/3 innings. He is 16-5 with a 2.69 ERA and leads the majors in innings (184.0) and strikeouts (243). With Tuesday’s outing, Verlander’s double-digit strikeout streak of seven consecutive games came to an end.

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