Russell ejected over Morgan bunt attempt
Bucs manager gets tossed over controversial call in sixth
PITTSBURGH -- Occasionally publically criticized for a perceived lack of emotion, Pirates skipper John Russell managed to get quite fired up in the sixth inning of Thursday's contest against the Indians. And as things would turn out, it proved to be quite the catalyst in Pittsburgh's 3-2 comeback win.
An animated and fiery Russell was ejected by home-plate umpire Jerry Layne during Nyjer Morgan's at-bat in the inning after Russell contended that a pitch from Indians start Cliff Lee had hit Morgan's left hand. Layne saw it differently, ruling that the Morgan had fouled the pitch off his finger on a bunt attempt.
"It hit Nyjer's hand," Russell said, not getting into much detail about the situation afterward. "He said it hit the bat and Nyjer almost broke his finger, but it is what it is."
Russell remained on the field for several minutes after being tossed, continuing to show his displeasure with Layne's call. When Russell finally headed for his early exit, bench coach Gary Varsho became the Pirates' acting manager.
Immediately following Russell's ejection, the Pirates used a ground out and sacrifice fly to push across their first run of the night and cut into what was a two-run Indians lead. With Russell in the clubhouse, the Bucs would score twice more to cap off a walk-off 3-2 victory.
"Big ups to skip for getting us fired up," said Morgan, who was not seriously hurt by Lee's pitch. "He pumped us up there and that's exactly what we needed, a little fire. Just one of those plays where skip came up there, fired us up and we got a W out of it."
The ejection was the second in Russell's big league managerial career. He was tossed in a game against Milwaukee last August.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.