Diving Catch in Foul Territory

DETROIT — Jered Weaver had full command of his dominating fastball. Torii Hunter’s big throw was a wild heave from the dugout.

Weaver allowed three hits over seven innings to best Justin Verlander, Hunter hit a two-run homer then tossed a bag of baseballs onto the field after being ejected, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 on Friday night.

Hunter, after hitting a tape-measure two-run homer in the first, was tossed by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the top of the eighth after being called out on strikes. Hunter said things had been escalating on pitches he and Kulpa didn’t agree on all game.

“It was a build up all day. Some things that were said by him,” Hunter said.

Hunter made a comment about strike one and commented again after the third strike. That’s when he was run.

“Obviously, Torii didn’t like strike one and we had a talk about strike one and then he didn’t like strike three and we had a conversation about strike three,” Kulpa said. “And he said some things that crossed the line and he got ejected.”

There has been lingering bad feelings between Hunter and Kulpa. Hunter said Kulpa ejected him from games twice before.

When he was ejected, Hunter thought, “‘This guy has something out for me.”

Kulpa said it was nothing personal with Hunter.

“It’s just the nature of the game. Sometimes guys disagree with us and those things happen in baseball,” he said. “I’ve known Torii for a long time and it’s just part of the game.”

Kulpa also said that Hunter hit him above his left eye with the bill of Hunter’s helmet after the ejection.

“If I did, I didn’t feel it,” Hunter said. “I looked down and said ‘it [the ball] was low!’ and I looked back up and he was holding his face. … I thought he was being a drama queen. I wasn’t even thinking about bumping him.”

Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia was also ejected when he tried to get between Hunter and Kulpa after the ejection.

Hunter went to the Angels dugout and heaved a bag of balls on to the field shortly thereafter.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry,” Hunter said about throwing the ball bag. “But that was something I had to do.”

Scioscia was then ejected.

“I guess Torii was upset the way the conversation went,” Scioscia said of Hunter. “Torii always plays with emotion.”

Brennan Boesch hit a home run for Detroit, which is 5-18 since the All-Star break.

“We had a few chances, but we didn’t do much. We got four hits,” Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland said. “Verlander started off shaky, made some real bad pitches early, then settled down pretty good. But it was just lack of offense.”

Weaver (11-7) allowed one earned run and fanned nine to run his AL-leading total to 171.

“The guys made some great defensive plays for me when I needed it,” he said.

Former Tiger Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth and Brian Fuentes the ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances.

Weaver worked out of a two on, none out jam in the second after he walked leadoff man Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta singled. Weaver struck out Johnny Damon swinging, got Brandon Inge to pop out and induced Alex Avila to hit a checked-swing grounder.

Weaver also walked Cabrera to lead off the fourth, when the Tigers got their second run.

Verlander (12-7) gave up four runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out two.

Hunter’s two-run homer in the first gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead. With one out, he drove Verlander’s 0-2 pitch off the flag pole well beyond the left-center field fence for his 18th home run. It was estimated at 435 feet.

Hunter said he strongly disagreed with Kulpa’s call on the first pitch in that at-bat.

The Angels made it 4-0 with two more in the second on Howie Kendrick’s RBI double and Peter Bourjos’ run-scoring grounder.

Boesch’s two-out, solo home run in the third put Detroit on the scoreboard. His towering drive down the right-field line deep into the stands was Boesch’s 13th homer and first since June 27. It was estimated at 407 feet.

“That was a bad pitch. He put it where it should’ve been,” Weaver said. “It was a hanging curveball.”
The Tigers pulled to 4-2 on second baseman Maicer Izturis’ throwing error as he attempted to complete a double play on Damon’s grounder in the fourth. Izturis’ throw to first was wild, allowing Cabrera to score from second.

Game notes

Damon’s foul line drive into the Tigers dugout in the fourth hit C Avila, who was standing on the steps, and knocked him down. Avila wasn’t injured. … Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch said that he would be bringing back both GM Dave Dombrowski and Leyland back for next season at a Detroit Red Wings’ press conference, to announce the signing of Mike Modano. … Detroit promoted David Chadd to vice president amateur scouting/special assistant to the general manager, Scott Pleis to director amateur scouting and Mike Rojas to director player development.