Francona ejected for arguing non-interference call

Play along first-base line in third inning proves costly to Tomlin, Indians

Francona ejected for arguing non-interference call

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona says he is still waiting for an explanation.

In the wake of Monday's 9-2 loss to the Rangers -- a defeat that Francona watched mostly from his office -- the manager was still upset over a play that not only led to his ejection, but dramatically turned the tables on the Tribe. Francona argued to no avail with home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez that Mitch Moreland had veered too far inside the baseline on what was deemed a third-inning throwing error by pitcher Josh Tomlin.

Francona was thrown out, and Tomlin caved in.

"I didn't get a very good explanation," Francona said. "I couldn't get any explanation."

With two outs and runners on the corner in the third, with Cleveland already facing a 3-0 deficit, Tomlin slid over to field a slow roller along the first-base line off the bat of Moreland. The pitcher attempted to throw it to first baseman Mike Napoli for the final out of the inning, but Tomlin's throw struck Moreland in the back.

Francona emerged from the dugout to argue with Gonzalez about the call, as Moreland appeared to run inside the first-base line to obstruct Tomlin's throw.

"I probably saw it like everyone else did," Francona said. "If you had a chance to look at it, the runner veered back into the baseline. He started out OK, but it looked like he wanted to get in the way of the throw. I think that's exactly why they put the rule in place. I don't know what he saw."

After Francona retreated to the dugout, the manager barked a few more words, prompting Gonzalez to toss him from the contest. Francona then returned to the field to air out some more frustration before heading to the clubhouse.

"When I went out the second time after he threw me out," Francona said, "he wouldn't talk to me."

That type of play falls under the umpire's discretion. Under Major League Baseball's guidelines, it is not a play that is reviewable via a managerial challenge. The play itself was the start of things spiraling out of control for Tomlin and the Indians. Instead of Tomlin recording the final out of the inning, Ian Desmond was able to score from third base to give Texas a 4-0 lead.

Texas scored again in the following at-bat on an Elvis Andrus RBI single into left, pushing the Indians behind, 5-0, before Tomlin finally escaped the inning. The Rangers then piled on four more in the fourth inning, when Cleveland's starter was chased from the contest.

Had Moreland been ruled out, Cleveland might not have faced so steep of a hole.

"We're out of that inning. It's a three-run ballgame," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. "From an offensive side, it fully changes the ballgame. They ended up getting two runs, and that's one of those things where they blow the game open, a five-run lead early."

Tomlin focused on the mistakes he made after the controversial play, as well as the misstep he made on the ill-fated throw in question.

"I could've done a better job of maybe not rushing that play," Tomlin said, "and maybe just stepping back inside the line a little bit better and making a better throw. ... My job right there is, when I make a play like that, to come back and try to pick the guys up and keep the score as minimal as possible.

"The bottom line tonight was I just didn't execute the pitches when I needed to execute them."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.