Case of mistaken obscenity costs Blue Jays

By: Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

MINNEAPOLIS _ This is what happens in a case of mistaken obscenity.

Rachel Basner was posting on Facebook Saturday afternoon ...

“Watching Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins with Toby Basner ... annddd my hubby just tossed Donaldson two plays into the game. #boss #mlb.”

We checked the American League schedule twice and it read Toronto at Minnesota.

Not once did “boss Toby Banser” make the billing.

How many of the 30,460 fans at Target Field Saturday afternoon paid to see reigning MVP Josh Donaldson? 

And how many came to see Basner work the plate?

Donaldson yelled at the Minnesota dugout while looking at Basner and the ump thinking the insult was directed his way ... ejected him six pitches into the game.

“It was the funniest darn ejection I’ve ever seen,” said crew chief Joe West.

Yet, no on in the Blue Jays clubhouse was laughing.

Of course, that is not why the Blue Jays lost 5-3 to the woeful Twins as J.A. Happ’s 2-0 lead suddenly went poof in the eighth, but the Jays would have liked to have had three more at-bats from Donaldson rather than Ryan Goins, who struck out twice in three at-bats as Donaldson’s replacement. 

What in the name of Joe Brinkman is going on here?

“People come to see him play,” said Russell Martin about Donaldson, “how about having a feel for the game.”

Donaldson had a feel for the strike zone as lefty Pat Dean’s frist two pitches were down. The Twins dugout complained on one pitch yelling ‘that’s not down,’ according to Donaldson.

“The third pitch was roughly the same spot as a ball he had called earlier and this one he called a strike,” Donaldson said. “I said to him ‘don’t allow their dugout to change your zone. Either it’s a strike or a ball down there. He said ‘that’s my bottom.’”

The next pitch Donaldson bounced to short and was thrown out. The Twins dugout chirped him, Donaldson said the magic world and Basner ejected him.

“After the ground out he was running back saying something to somebody and his hand gestures made it look like he was saying something to our dugout,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, “but I missed that. I’m sure he knows what he was doing and who he was speaking to. But the ump heard something and he took care of it.”

After being ejected “quickly,” Donaldson told Basner he was not looking at him and pointed to the first base dugout. “He said ‘well you were looking in my vicinity.’

“I don’t have a history with this umpire,” Donaldson said. “I was not disrespectful. I’ve had a lot of conversations with umpires this was not heated, I did not swear at him.”

Basner, 31, had worked home plate in 54 games coming into this season and had eight ejections: Daniel Murphy and David Wright of the New York Mets, Paul Clemens of the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox Mike Napoli and coach Brian Butterfield, Pittsburgh Pirates Justin Wilson, Seattle Mariners Lloyd McClendon and Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado.

“To have his bat out of the lineup certainly didn’t hurt our cause,” Molitor said. “I’m not sure what he said and who it was directed at, but it got the umpire’s attention.”

UN-HAPP-Y FINISH: Happ was cruising, owner of 2-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth and sitting at only 84 pitches. 

Happ had allowed one hit and was facing the 6-7-8 spots in the Minnesota Twins order.

Within 11 pitches, the Twins tied the score against Happ and then won it when Eduardo Nunez hit a three-run homer off reliever Gavin Floyd. 

Robbie Grossman led off singling on a 1-0 pitch to left and Darin Mastroianni, a lifetime .206 hitter and hitless in eight at-bats this season walked on a 3-2 pitch. After a failed bunt attempt, Danny Santana doubled to right tying the game. 

Reliever Floyd hit Brian Dozier with a pitch and Nunez tagged a 1-1 pitch to left centre for his third homer.

“He pitched so well and had nothing to show for it,” said Marco Estrada. “He still left here pitching a really great game. You can’t control what you can’t control.

Happ had allowed one hit in the first seven innings: a Nunez double to left leading off the fourth. He was erased when Miguel Sano flied to centre and Kevin Pillar threw Sano out at third with Darwin Barney applying the tag.

Barney was at third replacing the ejected Donaldson.

IN GAME: For seven innings this was shaping up to be an old breaking news story about Jose Bautista and how he owns Target Field. Jose Bautista went deep again Saturday afternoon taking a 1-1 pitch from Dean to left. Darwin Barney had doubled ahead of Bautista.

Bautista now has 13 homers in 20 games at Target Field (93 plate appearances) the most of any visiting player. Joe Mauer has 19 career homers in 396 games (1,715 plate appearances) ... Michael Saunders hit his eighth homer in the ninth, the third homer in as many games in Minneapolis ... The Twins managed five runs on four hits and three walks, once of which scored.