Jeff Banister went 44 games without being ejected. He couldn't make it through 45.
The Texas Rangers manager expressed his displeasure with home-plate umpire Paul Nauert's strike zone in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday.
It didn't take Nauert long to send Banister to the clubhouse. Banister couldn't have been happy on a questionable 3-2 pitch that was called a ball to White Sox outfielder Nicky Delmonico. That walk loaded the bases.
"A ball that obviously felt like, when you saw my reaction, where I thought the pitch was, obviously a young guy on the mound, I’ll fight for him, especially in a situation I felt like it was a quality pitch," Banister said. "A pitch that should’ve been called a strike.”
Said Leclerc: "Yes, it was [a strike]. I saw it on the video, but I can do nothing about it."
Replays showed that Leclerc's pitch may have caught the bottom of the strike zone, but Nauert issued a walk. Leclerc walked the next batter, Matt Davidson, to bring in the game-tying run and Banister made a pitching change.
After signaling to the bullpen, Banister made a beeline to Nauert and the two had a heated exchange.
Asked why he delayed his confrontation with Nauert, Banister said: "Well, not the appropriate time to go out there at that time."
But Banister made it clear that he didn't "bite his tongue," as one reporter suggested.
"I voiced my displeasure well before I went out to make a pitching change," Banister said. "I knew I was thrown out before I even turned [from the pitching mound]. I’ll fight for my guy. I’ll fight for what I thought was right. And, listen, I still feel the same way."
The Rangers had a 2-0 lead when Leclerc entered the game in the eighth, and he got two quick outs. But then he gave up a double to Yoan Moncada and made a throwing error on a comebacker by Yolmer Sanchez. Things continued to unravel from there with three consecutive walks, including an intentional to Jose Abreu.
The White Sox ended up scoring four runs in the inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit and win the opener of a four-game series.