More on Thomas' ejection, Rainey's rebound and Lipscomb's playing time

DETROIT – Lane Thomas did say something when Emil Jimenez called a borderline pitch strike three on him in the top of the sixth Thursday afternoon. He said two words, which when combined, can make for quite the insult.

But Thomas insists he wasn’t directing those words at Jimenez and rather uttered them out of frustration at the strike three call. Which is why he couldn’t believe it when Jimenez immediately ejected him from the game.

“Looking back, what I said was nothing that I haven’t said in the past,” he said. “I just thought (the ejection) was a little quick. So I don’t know if he didn’t understand me, or what happened. But I definitely didn’t say anything towards him. That was the frustrating part for me, that it was that quick and not directed at him.”

The first ejection of Thomas’ career made for quite a scene, with Jesse Winker (who was on-deck) jumping in to defend his teammate, and then manager Davey Martinez pleading his case to Jimenez as bench coach Miguel Cairo and third base coach Ricky Gutierrez tried to make sure Thomas and Winker didn’t say or do anything else that could get them into even more trouble.

“I think it was a tough pitch, and I was just frustrated,” Thomas said. “I say stuff all the time, but it’s not directed at anyone. That’s what I told (crew chief Larry Vanover): ‘I don’t talk to you guys like that. I didn’t say anything out of my norm.’”

Video (and audio) of the incident quickly spread, helping bolster Thomas’ claim his actions didn’t warrant the punishment.

“My wife sent me a video of it,” Thomas said. “Hopefully he watches that and makes an adjustment going forward.”

* With their top three relievers all shelved after pitching the previous two days, the Nationals had to turn to others to get through Thursday’s game. Derek Law and Robert Garcia proceeded to give up a combined six runs in 1 1/3 innings, turning a close game into a lopsided one, but that did open the door for Tanner Rainey to make a rare appearance.

Rainey, who has pitched in only five of the Nats’ last 36 games, all of them with his team trailing by at least three runs, tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth Thursday. And that represented his fourth straight scoreless outing.

It’s baby steps at this point, but the right-hander is finally showing signs of improvement. Enough to warrant usage in some situations of more consequence?

“We’ll continue to use him the way we are,” Martinez said. “We might have to pitch him a little more. But I like the way he’s throwing the ball. The biggest thing now is he’s repeating his delivery, which is nice. We’ve got to keep him right there.”

* Trey Lipscomb wasn’t in the lineup for either of the Nationals’ last two games, a bit of a surprise given the organization’s insistence the rookie will only be on the major league roster if he’s getting regular playing time.

In this case, it appears the matchups weren’t to Martinez’s liking for Lipscomb, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday after first baseman Joey Gallo went on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.

Lipscomb did come off the bench to pinch-hit for designated hitter Eddie Rosario in the top of the ninth and struck out against Tigers closer Andrew Chafin. He figures to find himself in the lineup this weekend against the Marlins, who haven’t named Friday’s starter yet but will have left-handers on the mound both Saturday and Sunday.

“He’s going to play,” Martinez said. “We’ve got a couple lefties coming up, so I’m going to put him out there. I haven’t decided where yet, but he’ll play some the next few days.”

* Josiah Gray makes his second rehab start tonight, taking the ball for Double-A Harrisburg against Bowie.

The Nationals’ Opening Day starter, who has been on the 15-day IL since mid-April with a flexor strain in his right elbow, tossed three innings and threw 43 pitches in his rehab debut Sunday for Single-A Fredericksburg. He’ll ideally build up to four innings and 60 pitches tonight while also looking for better results than the three runs he surrendered on three extra-base hits, a walk and a hit batter last time out.

Game 70 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins
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