TORONTO -- Built-up frustration over a pair of questionable calls in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's loss to Tampa Bay likely will result in a suspension for Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Lawrie, who struck out on back-to-back pitches that appeared to be out of the strike zone, ended up taking his frustration out on home-plate umpire Bill Miller. Toronto's second-year player reacted to the final strike by slamming his helmet into the ground and screaming directly into Miller's face.
When the helmet hit the ground it also ricocheted towards the home-plate umpire and appeared to hit him in the leg, which could open up Lawrie for possible disciplinary action from Major League Baseball.
"That was not my intention at all," Lawrie said of striking Miller with his helmet. "I've never, ever, done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that. It just kind of took an unlucky bounce and I think it got him, so my apologies for that."
The incident occurred with the Blue Jays trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth and one out. Lawrie got ahead in the count, 3-1, against Rays closer Fernando Rodney and was seemingly one pitch away from getting on base as the potential game-tying run.
The fifth pitch of the at-bat from Rodney appeared to be at least a couple of inches off the outside corner. Lawrie dropped his bat and began to jog to first base when he heard the strike call from Miller.
Lawrie made the slow walk back to the plate and got ready for the full count. This time, Rodney's pitch appeared to be above the zone and once again Lawrie made a move towards first only to be rung up by Miller with the strike-three call.
"The bat was taken completely out of Brett's hands, not only the 3-1 pitch, but the 3-2 pitch as well," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Those are not strikes, evident by the reaction of obviously Brett and myself."
Farrell immediately ran out onto the field but was unable to intervene before Lawrie had his run-in with Miller. Farrell got between the two and eventually was ejected for continuing the argument with Miller at home plate.
"Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip," said Miller, who declined to speak to the pool reporter in Toronto but did talk to the Associated Press.
"That's a bit extreme."
There was no immediate word on when an official decision regarding potential disciplinary action will come from MLB but Farrell conceded that "I'm sure that will be reviewed by the league."
The ballgame ended one play after the disputed at-bat when Rodney induced a ground ball off the bat of Colby Rasmus. The umpires then left the field to a chorus of boos while it was confirmed later that Miller was struck by a plastic beer cup which was thrown by a fan.
But that's not the Blue Jays' main concern right now. They will await word from the league about a possible suspension for their star third baseman, who will be considered a first-time offender.
"I'm not going to say I haven't had a dispute, but I've never thrown anything or gone even close to an umpire like that or never put an umpire in danger," Lawrie said.
"It's not what I'm out there to do. It's just my passion for the game, and I wanted to help out my teammates as best I could. That's the pride I have in this game and that's how I play it, I leave my emotions out on the field."