Donnelly was ejected after Nationals manager Frank Robinson asked umpires to inspect his glove and found a foreign substance. Then a fired-up Jose Guillen hit a tying two-run homer and the Nationals scored four eighth-inning runs Tuesday night to rally for a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Donnelly was tossed in the seventh without so much as throwing a pitch, ejected because he had a foreign substance—pine tar, he said later—on the heel of his glove.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia then began jawing at Robinson, and both benches emptied, although there apparently were no punches thrown.
Guillen, suspended late last season by the Angels for throwing a temper tantrum and traded last November, was particularly angered during the incident and had to be restrained by his Washington teammates.
Scot Shields replaced Donnelly and retired the two batters he faced in the seventh, but Guillen homered the next inning to tie it at 3. The Nationals scored two more runs off Shields in the inning, and added another run in the ninth.
“I feel like that situation really got the guys going, got the adrenaline flowing, and they just became closer and more determined,” Robinson said. “They were determined that the Angels were not going to beat us tonight.”
Dale Scott, the umpires’ crew chief, said Donnelly’s confiscated glove will be sent to the commissioner’s office. The use of pine tar is against rules barring “foreign substances” on a pitcher’s glove or person. Scott was uncertain what suspension, if any, would be levied against Donnelly.
Scioscia acknowledged that the use of pine tar is against the rules, but said it is “used around baseball,” doesn’t alter the flight of the ball and usually isn’t an issue.
Both he and Robinson were still fuming after the game.
“I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight—as a person and as a manager. And there’s nothing he can say to me now, nothing,” Robinson said. “I don’t even want him to approach me, I don’t even want him to apologize to me. I would not accept it or have anything to do with it.”
Robinson, a former vice president of discipline for the major leagues, said Donnelly simply got caught cheating and Scioscia was “way off base.”
“He took me by surprise when he came over to me and I took it as a threat,” Robinson said. “He told me that he was going to have every one of my pitchers undressed when they came out there to the mound—no matter who it was.”
Said Scioscia: “I told Frank we were going to undress his pitchers when they were on the mound to see if they had any pine tar in their glove. He obviously wasn’t happy. He was screaming. We weren’t making a lunch date.”
When the Nationals took the field for the bottom of the seventh, Scioscia asked the umpires to check pitcher Gary Majewski’s glove, which they did—and made him fix the loose laces on it.
Told that Robinson also claimed Donnelly had sandpaper with him before he got rid of it, Scioscia’s voice rose as he said, “He had no sandpaper out there. That’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Donnelly, asked about the sandpaper, shot back, “That’s just a lie.”
Majewski (2-0) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings to earn the win and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances.
Shields (5-4) gave up four runs—two unearned—on three hits in 1 2-3 innings.
Washington starter Livan Hernandez, denied the chance for his ninth consecutive victory, gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
The Angels’ Ervin Santana, a rookie right-hander making his third major league start, allowed one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out seven, walked four and left with a 3-1 lead.
Nick Johnson’s broken-bat, RBI single to right field had tied it at 1 in the sixth.
The Nationals, who had their 10-game win streak end in an 11-1 loss to the Angels on Monday, have won 14 of their last 16. … Erstad singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and tie a career high. … When the Nationals scored off Santana in the sixth inning, it ended his string of 14 consecutive scoreless innings, tied for the club high this season with Bartolo Colon.