Yankees manager Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long were ejected by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson in the seventh inning of New York's 4-3 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Girardi, who was visibly upset while arguing his case on the field and while offering postgame remarks, said the incident stemmed from a call Davidson made during Curtis Granderson's seventh-inning at-bat and the manner in which Davidson handled himself toward Long and Girardi.
With one out, men on second and third and the Tigers leading, 2-1, Davidson called Joaquin Benoit's first pitch to Granderson a strike. The Yankees thought it was low and outside.
Granderson popped the next pitch up and out of play, near the visitors' dugout, where Long drew the ire of Davidson.
"Bob Davidson chose to look right at K-Long, as opposed to turning over his right and going back to home plate," Girardi said. "Now, this is a game of emotion and you've got one of the most prolific home run hitters in the game right now -- second and third, one out -- and you get a call like that, we're going to be upset.
"And he said, 'Don't talk to me that way. I'm not going to let you talk to me that way.' To me, he should have turned and went the other way, and he didn't. And I question what he did."
Girardi said there were no warnings issued previously and no profanity that may have prompted the ejection.
"I believe their job is to keep peace, and to me, that's not what he did," Girardi said.
The dispute comes on the heels of an incident in Wednesday's game against the Angels in which Yankees catcher Russell Martin seemed to rub home-plate umpire Laz Diaz the wrong way. Martin said after that game that he was "mystified" by Diaz's behavior, and that the umpire would not let Martin throw new baseballs back to the pitcher. Martin said Diaz told him it was "a privilege that I have to earn."
Martin said after Saturday's game he felt the incidents were unrelated, and that Davidson did a fine job behind the plate.
"He was just calling the game like he usually does," Martin said. "I couldn't tell if there was anything different. He was calling his normal zone and everything like that."
Davidson was suspended for one game in mid-May by Major League Baseball for "repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner's standards for situation handling."
"They're humans back there," Granderson said. "They're going to make some mistakes. But part of the game, though, is that there's got to be some consequences for it. Just as players, if we make mistakes, there's consequences for us. We get errors, we get ruled out, we possibly get sent down. All that different stuff happens to us. There's got to be a similar type of situation on the other end."
Girardi said he feels players and managers should be granted leeway based on their emotional investment in the game, while umpires have no interest in the outcome.
"We play with emotion," Girardi said. "Every night, we go out and it means something to us. The only thing that means something to them is how they do their job, not whether they win or lose. Because they don't win or lose. It means something to us. We've got to have some leniency. You've got to understand we're going to get emotional. And if you do something in a spot where we feel it's wrong, we're going to get upset. That's what happens. It's life."