Buck Showalter has earned a reputation as one of the game's fieriest managers. On Monday night at Camden Yards, the Orioles manager's intensity was on display as he got into a heated verbal exchange with his opposite number, Yankees manager Joe Girardi — no shrinking violet himself.
After each team scored a run in their respective halves of the first inning — the Yankees via an Alex Rodriguez homer, the Orioles via a Nick Markakis double, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly — Showalter charged out of the dugout and began hollering at Girardi before being intercepted and restrained by third base umpire Jim Joyce. Meanwhile, Girardi came out of the dugout and began jawing with home plate ump Ed Hickox, his own intensity rising until he had to be restrained by bench coach Tony Pena. Here's the video from MLB.com, with the Orioles' feed followed by that of the Yankees:
[mlbvideo id="30462835" width="600" height="336" /]
Via the two teams' broadcast booths, the apparent meat of the beef was that during the home half of the first, Girardi walked down to the left-field side of the dugout and called out something to Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson, possibly accusing him of stealing catcher Austin Romine's signs to indicate pitch location. Showalter said words to the effect of "Don't talk to him that way," interspersing a selection of less printable words into his retort.
On the other hand, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck wrote in his Orioles Insider blog that the initial speculation in the Camden Yards pressbox was that the root of the matter was Yankees starter CC Sabathia throwing his first pitch of the night inside to Markakis. One year and one day ago, Sabathia hit Markakis on the left thumb with a pitch, fracturing it and knocking the rightfielder out of action for the remainder of the season.
The Orioles (77-66) and Yankees (76-68) came into the night — the first game of a four-game series — two and 2 1/2 games behind the Rays, respectively, in the race for the second AL wild-card slot. The Orioles wound up touching Sabathia up for a pair of runs in the fifth via a J.J. Hardy double, a sacrifice fly and singles by Alexi Casilla and Markakis. They added another in the seventh, keyed by a Sabathia throwing error on a fielder's choice, and went on to win 4-2.
Despite Tampa Bay's recent 3-11 slide, both teams have uphill battles ahead of them, with the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds report estimating their chances coming into the night 10.6 and 6.9 percent, respectively.
Update: In his postgame interview, Showalter said the root of the cause was Girardi yelling at Dickerson, accusing him of stealing signs. Regarding Manny Machado's sacrifice bunt that moved Markakis to third base in the first, Showalter said, "Manny wouldn't have bunted if we had the pitches."