Rocco Baldelli was ejected on Tuesday

Controversy erupted between the MLB umpires and Minnesota Twins during Tuesday’s game against the Houston Astros. Only, the controversy didn’t stem from a call made by the umpires during the game. Rather, it escalated from a ruling they made when baseball was not being played. The result was Twins manager Rocco Baldelli getting ejected.

In the fifth inning, Minnesota pitcher Aaron Sanchez hit José Altuve with a pitch. Altuve was not happy and had some unpleasant words with Sanchez as he headed to first base. The conflict between the two didn’t amount to much, with one exception. The benches cleared.

When things were being sorted out, Baldelli talked to his team, including Sanchez, at the pitcher’s mound. That was ruled as a mound visit. Only, the Twins — or at least Baldelli and pitching coach Pete Maki — weren’t aware of that.

Houston’s next hitter, Yuli Gurriel, walked. When that happened, Maki went to the mound to conference with Sanchez. That’s when things got complicated — and heated.

The umpires ruled that it was the second mound visit of the inning, which meant that Sanchez had to be removed. Baldelli, who already had a lot of frustration with umpires recently, erupted. He was quickly ejected from the game.

Baldelli was smart in killing time, thereby getting Cole Sands some extra warmup tosses in the bullpen.

As far as the ruling itself, it’s tricky.

While this may seem ticky-tack by the umpires, the rule is pretty clear. Unless there’s an injury, two mound visits to the same pitcher in one inning mandates a change. In 2010, while filling in as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers for an ejected Joe Torre, Don Mattingly was charged two mound visits. His first came when he went to talk to the pitcher. The second came as he walked off of the mound when he turned around to make one last point. So, these incidents are rare, but they do happen.

The difference between Mattingly’s incident and this is time. In Mattingly’s case, there was no disputing that the first trip was an official mound visit, nor was there any time to stop him from making the second. The two happened within seconds of each other. That gaffe was clearly Mattingly’s.

This is different in that plenty of time passed between the benches clearing and Maki’s visit. The umpires could have made it clear that the conference on the mound when the benches cleared counted as a mound visit. We can only guess that the umpires did let the Twins know that the mound visit was being charged. Whether they did so clearly enough is a different matter.

Sands actually pitched well, despite being sprung into action. Despite inheriting a situation with two runners on and nobody out, he kept the Astros from scoring in the fifth and followed that with a scoreless sixth. He did allow a run in the seventh.

So, things definitely could have worked out worse for the Twins. Still, given how vocal Baldelli has been in umpire criticisms recently, we’re guessing more is to come from this incident.

[MLB Metrics, Bally Sports North]

About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. Fan of most sports, nerd when it comes to sports history. Bay Area based for now. Likely leaving sometime early in 2023.

Other loves include good tacos, pizza and obscure Seinfeld quotes.

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