SEATTLE -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ejected from Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Mariners for arguing balls and strikes during what became a contentious third inning for the Tigers with home-plate umpire Brian Knight.
"I'll make this simple: I just wasn't happy with the strike zone," Leyland said of the ejection. "I let them know it, and they let me know where to go. That's pretty much how it worked."
That exchange came on a 1-2 curveball from starter Justin Verlander to Mariners designated hitter John Jaso with two outs in the third after Seattle had turned a 5-0 deficit into a 5-3 game. Verlander's reaction on the very next pitch, a 2-2 fastball at the knees that also wasn't called, could have earned the Cy Young winner and MVP a spot in the clubhouse with his manager.
"What I told Brian," Verlander said, "was I don't want to yell in the middle of an inning, but these guys have a rally going. I can't really wait in between innings to voice my opinion. ...
"Your adrenaline's really going, so instead of, 'Hey, Brian, where've you got that?' it comes out a bit more aggressively than that. But what are you going to do?"
In Verlander's case, he went back to the mound before any more trouble could come about, thanks in part to catcher Gerald Laird's diplomacy. He couldn't afford to let Verlander risk ejection, but with starting catcher Alex Avila sidelined, he couldn't pick up the argument for him, either. So he told Knight he'd take care of it.
"There's no hard feelings. It's just the heat of the moment," Laird said he told Knight, a message Verlander echoed on his way out after six innings and three runs allowed.
By keeping his cool and finding his rhythm after what he called four of the toughest innings he can remember, Verlander (3-1) extended his road unbeaten streak to 11 straight decisions since July, continuing the longest such streak by a Tigers starter since Denny McLain in 1968. Yet, it marked his first win at Safeco Field since 2008, when he led the American League in losses.