DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus needs no explanation about his team's troubles with untimely double plays this season. He was hoping for an explanation on a close-call double play that nabbed Miguel Cabrera at second. By asking about it, he got an ejection for arguing a play that was overturned by replay review.
Cabrera, who was thrown out trying to score from second on Nick Castellanos' single to end the fourth inning, was hoping for a better jump on Victor Martinez's line drive in the sixth inning of Friday's 2-0 loss to the Rangers. With the Rangers' infield defense shifted, however, Martinez's liner went towards second baseman Rougned Odor, who made the catch over his head as Cabrera broke for third.
"You come up through baseball, and for Miggy's entire life, he's not used to having a guy standing in short right field when they're playing the shift like that," Ausmus said. "So your initial reaction off the bat is it's a base hit. And I've seen other players get caught like that. It's not unique. It's just shifting is a relatively new phenomenon in baseball, and your instincts take over. Baserunners just need to get used to the fact that sometimes with certain hitters, the positioning of the defense is going to be a little different, and you have to take a peek."
Cabrera turned to head back, then hesitated for a second. Shortstop Elvis Andrus seemed to have an easy play to double him up, but appeared to be pulled off the bag by the throw, sending Cabrera breaking back to the bag. Second-base umpire Adam Hamari ruled that Andrus beat Cabrera back to the bag, prompting Ausmus to use his challenge.
From at least one angle, the replay looked like Cabrera might have gotten his foot back just ahead of Andrus' dive to the bag. The same replay, however, suggested Andrus had his foot on the side of the bag when he initially took the throw, rendering the close play moot.
Ausmus saw the same thing. After a 4-minute, 57-second review, the call stood, and Ausmus came out of the dugout for clarification.
"All the umpires I've come across, if it's an odd replay review, they're willing to give you the explanation that they got from New York," Ausmus said. "I wasn't going to argue whether he was out or safe. My only question was: Did they call him out on the initial touch of the bag, or did they call him out when [Andrus] went back to touch the bag. That was my one question."
By rule, a manager can't argue a replay review, and after warnings from third-base umpire and crew chief Ron Kulpa, Ausmus was ejected.
"Once I got ejected, I said, 'Well, now you can answer my question, since you threw me out.' He said it was on the initial [touch]. That's all I was looking for, so there was no reason for that ejection at all."
It was Ausmus' fourth ejection this season, and the seventh of his two-year managerial career. Bench coach Gene Lamont took over managerial duties.
The Tigers went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but two of the at-bats were double plays that ended threats.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.