CLEVELAND -- Chris Gimenez stood tall and followed A's designated hitter Billy Butler up the first-base line for a few steps, as the Progressive Field crowd booed loudly in the fourth inning Saturday night. The backup catcher did not like Butler's bat flip and he really did not appreciate the primal shout that followed his home run.
"I just let him know that I'd be waiting for him when he got back," Gimenez said after the Tribe's 6-3 win over Oakland. "And then, the umpire kind of got involved. I had to kind of think about, 'Would my wife want me or want my kids to see me doing something right now?'"
Cooler heads prevailed, but Cleveland's bats heated up.
After a tense moment between Gimenez and Butler, when the designated hitter's estimated 442-foot home run (per Statcast™) to the left-field bleachers pulled the game into a 2-2 deadlock, the Indians retaliated in the best way possible. Starter Josh Tomlin kept Oakland's bats quiet for the rest of his seven-inning effort, and the offense responded with four runs in the home half of the fourth to put the Indians ahead for good.
Abraham Almonte began the bottom of the fourth with a 442-foot home run of his own -- a towering shot off A's lefty Dillon Overton that crashed in the left-field stands. Jason Kipnis later added a run-scoring double to push the Indians ahead, 4-2. Two batters later, Mike Napoli drilled a 105-mph line drive over the wall in dead center for two-run homer, marking his team-leading 23rd shot on the year.
Before that outpouring came Butler's antics.
"Maybe it got us going a little bit," Napoli said.
Tomlin was a little more clear with his postgame comments.
"I think it got under some people's skin, definitely," said the pitcher. "I don't think that's the determining factor of getting amped up for it, but I think it might've lit a fire a little bit."
The sequence of events began with a 1-2 cutter that home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson called a ball just off the plate. Gimenez reacted audibly, believing it was strike three initially. Butler then exchanged words with the catcher as the at-bat progressed toward a 3-2 count. At one point, Gibson moved between the two players in an effort to calm the situation.
"I give Tripp a ton of credit. He was very consistent," Gimenez said. "There were no issues with the umpire at all. We have an open line of communication back there. My job is to get as many strikes called for my pitcher. I don't care what the batter thinks."
Gimenez added that he went back and looked at the pitch in question on film, noting that Gibson got the call right.
Butler won the battle with his mammoth shot to left field, and he let Gimenez know just how thrilled he was to come out on top in the situation. The DH turned and yelled in the catcher's direction before violently flipping his bat into foul ground. Gimenez barked at Butler. Tomlin stared down the DH as he rounded the bases. When Butler finished his trot, Gibson issued warnings to both teams.
For the rest of the night, Cleveland's crowd let Butler have it for each of his remaining at-bats. Tomlin opted against expressing his disgust with an inside pitch, though, and Gimenez kept calm the rest of the way, too.
It was the Indians' bats that did the talking.
"Thankfully, nothing happened," Gimenez said. "Like I said, that's the game. Competitiveness. We're in the heat of a pennant race. Things like that are going to happen. It won't be the last time. Thankfully, it kind of rallied the troops and I'll take it."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.