Martin, Hurdle ejected by Iassogna in defeat
Pirates catcher, manager argued balls, strikes during fourth inning
ATLANTA -- Pirates catcher Russell Martin did not want there to be any confusion about what he said that drew an ejection from home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna in Monday night's 7-2 loss to the Braves.
"The umpire [Iassogna] didn't call a pitch that I thought was a good pitch, and I stood up and I [cursed], and he threw me out," Martin said. "That's the way it happened."
Martin and manager Clint Hurdle both were ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the bottom of the fourth inning at Turner Field. The Braves hit the afterburners after those two hit the showers, lighting up starter A.J. Burnett for a four-run fifth inning to pull away for good.
After the game, Martin recalled his surprise that a remark he intended to be internal was received with such an extreme reaction.
"It's strange, normally you kind of feel it build up, there's tension between me and him, but it wasn't really that type of game," Martin said. "I didn't really criticize him for any pitches during the game. I was just back there, and he's normally a guy that I get along with."
Hurdle was more concerned with the prompt manner in which his catcher was tossed than with the substance of the dispute. As he stepped in front of the plate to throw the ball back to the mound, Martin did not turn his head back to Iassogna, a technique catchers often use to voice their opinions without showing up the umpire.
"You have some questionable calls, those things happen, but for the catcher to get tossed walking away from the umpire, never turning his head and never saying anything, was disappointing," Hurdle said. "What was said and what was heard, I don't know if there was a connection there, but that was disappointing."
It appeared to be Burnett who first voiced his displeasure with Iassogna, taking a long look back at home plate after his first pitch to Braves starter Kris Medlen appeared to be up and in for a ball. The Pirates starter also appeared to have some words for Iassogna before returning to the mound.
Iassogna called a ball on the next pitch, which appeared inside but lower in the zone, and then ejected Martin as the catcher stood up to throw the ball back to the mound.
"The one previous to that one, that was debatable, but the 1-0 pitch to the pitcher as well, you just need that," Martin said. "It's over the plate. Maybe he didn't get a good look at it, tough job that he has, I just hope that it wasn't just like a personal vendetta against A.J. after whatever they had previously."
"I don't know what all went down, but it was very quick," Burnett said. "It looked like he was coming out here to calm me down and made a quick U-turn. Had we not lost a starter yesterday, I might've followed him. Maybe, I should've after that last inning."
Hurdle emerged from the dugout in order to take up the argument for his catcher and received his third ejection of the season moments later. It was Martin's sixth career ejection. The catcher was tossed from a Spring Training game on March 24, but his last regular-season ejection came as a member of the Yankees in September 2011.
"I have my moments where I feel like I deserve to be thrown out," Martin said. "I have my temper tantrums every once in a while, but in a 2-1 game like that, when my pitcher's battling, I'm competing. We're playing to win ... tough situation. And I didn't feel like it was a necessary move by the umpire. But obviously, he reacted the way he did. I'm sure if he looks back, he probably wishes he wouldn't have done that. I hope he does."
Backup Michael McKenry finished the game behind the plate for the Pirates.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.