As any Cleveland Indians fan knows, skipper Manny Acta is a relatively patient and passive guy.
But with his club trailing 2-1 in the top of the eighth to the Boston Red Sox, the Tribe certainly needed some kind of boost...even if it meant an ejection of the mild-mannered Acta.
With one out in the inning, the lately unlucky Justin Masterson was throwing a great game, only allowing two runs on four hits over 7.1 innings. The Indians themselves had only mustered three hits over the course of the game, two of them off the hot bat of Asdrubal Cabrera.
So when Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a "missed catch error" by Masterson, a play where he simply missed touching the bag after first baseman Matt LaPorta attempted to assist on the putout, it seemed Acta wanted to give his club a shot in the arm.
With Ellsbury safe at first, Acta went after the umpiring crew passionately, leading to his ejection. Here is the chain of events that followed.
Ellsbury would attempt to steal on catcher Lou Marson. He wound up being the fifth runner caught stealing by Marson this season. Two outs.
The inning would end with Joe Smith retiring Kevin Youkilis on a fly ball to end the half-inning.
Did Acta being ejected help propel the victory?
With the Indians trailing 2-1, third baseman Jack Hannahan led off the inning with a seeing-eye single through the hole between first and second base.
With Adam Everett pinch-running for Hannahan, he advanced to second on an Austin Kearns ground out. One out.
With a runner in scoring position, Carlos Santana continued to struggle at the plate (hitless in his previous 16 at-bats) by popping out to third base. Two outs, runner on second.
Then, as they say, the magic happened.
With a 2-2 count, leadoff hitter Michael Brantley drove a Daniel Bard fastball to right field for a single, with Everett hustling home to score the tying run. In a heads-up play, Brantley advanced to second on the throw to the plate.
Next up, Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera had eight hits in his previous 10 at-bats, including a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at one. He sent another Bard fastball to left center for his 10th double of the season, easily scoring Brantley from second. The Indians took a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth.
After getting David Ortiz to fly out, closer Chris Perez gave up consecutive singles to put runners on the corners with one out. The speedy Carl Crawford approached the plate. It is certainly worthy to note that Crawford, over his last 1,386 at-bats, had only grounded into nine double plays. Yes, that would be one double play every 154 at-bats.
Sure enough, Perez got Crawford to ground sharply to second baseman Orlando Cabrera, who promptly turned the double play, beating Crawford by a step at first base to end the game.
While Acta's ejection and the Tribe's subsequent offensive surge may appear merely coincidental on paper, it was clear to those watching that the team rose out of the doldrums by equaling its hit total for the game in one inning and making needed plays to slam the door on any Red Sox rally.
While I am not advocating by any means Acta turning into the next Bobby Cox, I believe his ejection, in part, helped the Indians beat one of the hottest teams in baseball Monday night.