As their game wore on against the Giants Tuesday night, Nationals hitters became increasingly frustrated with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo’s strike zone.
This got manager Davey Martinez going and he had choice words for Randazzo from the dugout. Randazzo then ejected Martinez from the game. Martinez proceeded to jump out of the dugout and have a more animated discussion with Randazzo, which took a few minutes just to the right of home plate between innings. The argument went on so long that first base umpire and crew chief Jeff Nelson came down the line to aid Randazzo.
Dozier was also called out on a third strike in the first inning. Juan Soto was called out on third strikes two times.
The Giants won 7-3, sending the Nationals to their second loss in a row and third in their last four games.
San Francisco had scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 3-1 lead and the Nats were looking to answer back quickly.
Victor Robles singled to begin the comeback attempt in the bottom of the fifth. With Adam Eaton at the plate, Robles was caught stealing at second base. Eaton then followed up with a single. But Dozier and Rendon struck out on called third strikes to end the threat. Each batter endured two called strikes by Randazzo during their respective at-bats.
Rendon argued with Randazzo after the called third strike ended the fifth inning. Martinez first questioned Randazzo’s call from the dugout.
“I was in the dugout,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You gotta be better than that.’ I didn’t cuss. I didn’t say much other than, ‘Let’s go.’ And what really irritated me was him putting his hand up in my face pretty much.”
The skipper did not appreciate the way Randazzo acted in front of him when the umpire approached the dugout after the Rendon strikeout.
“So I can tolerate a lot of things,” Martinez said. “Don’t do that. I have a lot of respect for umpires - everybody knows that. I typically don’t complain too much about them. But you know him walking towards our dugout when I’m in the dugout, I hope the league looks at that because like I said, I didn’t say much to really get tossed. But he felt like I said enough.”
Martinez said his frustration with Randazzo’s strike zone wasn’t based on just the back-to-back punchouts of Dozier and Rendon.
“No. It was just some of the calls,” Martinez said. The 30-second delay on (Juan) Soto. The calls on Dozier. The one on Rendon. I mean, we could go on, but like I said, I’m not much to complain about umpires. They got a job to do, I get it. At some point, I gotta say my piece. And Rendon doesn’t ever hardly complain. And when he complains, then it was about that time.”
But catcher Kurt Suzuki had a realistic look at how to handle things when you don’t agree with the home plate umpire’s calls.
“I mean strike zone is the strike zone,” Suzuki said. “You argue all you want but you still have to go out there and hit. Yeah, it can change your at-bat or whatnot, but you just try your best to block it out and just not worry about it.
“You got to go up there to hit the ball and if he’s calling the pitch you have to start swinging at it, I mean you can’t just keep arguing and taking the strike, I mean you have to swing at it, so he made good pitches and Buster (Posey) did a good job of framing it and it is what it is.”
The ejection was Martinez’s second of his tenure with the Nats. He was ejected last season on April 7, 2018, alongside Rendon after arguing with home plate umpire Marty Foster in a 3-2 loss to the Mets at Nats Park. Foster ejected Rendon after he dropped his bat to end the third inning. Rendon did not say a word to Foster. It was the second called third strike Rendon had taken in that game.