UPDATE (Aug. 27, 3 p.m. PT): MLB fined Justin Turner an undisclosed amount and suspended him one game for making contact with home-plate umpire Rob Drake after the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the San Diego Padres. Turner is appealing the suspension.
After losing two of three to the New York Yankees in what many billed as a 2019 World Series preview, the Los Angeles Dodgers began a seven-game road trip and stretch of 13 consecutive games against National League West opponents.
Normally that will lend to success for the Dodgers — who are closing in on a seventh consecutive division title — and while victories may very well come in bunches over the next two weeks, the San Diego Padres staved that off for at least one night.
They rallied for three runs in the sixth inning en route to a 4-3 comeback win on a night in which both teams took issue with home-plate umpire Rob Drake’s strike zone. That was particularly evident in at-bats by A.J. Pollock and Justin Turner in the ninth inning.
Both were called out on strikes, with Turner’s ending the game. He did not realize Drake called Kirby Yates’ fastball for strike until hearing the Petco Park crowd celebrating. Turner immediately turned to protest the call and exchanged words with Drake on the way to the dugout.
Following the Dodgers’ loss, Turner explained his show of emotion stemmed from Drake’s response and initiating contact, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“There was a lot of very questionable calls throughout the game. He called strike three and I asked him, ‘You called that a strike?’ And he told me it was right down the middle, which was pretty upsetting. If he thinks that’s down the middle, no wonder he was missing a lot of pitches throughout the night.
“Then he walks into me and told me not to bump him which, you know, also upsets me. I’m not trying to bump him or touch him in any way. But when you walk into me and then cry foul like I hit you or something, is brutal.”
Turner went 3-for-5 on the night with an RBI double and home run, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Well before his frustration boiled over, Chris Taylor and Eric Hosmer were among those to argue balls and strikes.
Dustin May at one point also asked where a pitch he believed was a strike, missed, and Will Smith’s body language on a throw back to the mound suggested he disagreed with one of Drake’s calls as well.
Monday’s incident added to the Dodgers’ history of being at odds with umpiring in San Diego. Adrian Gonzalez memorably was ejected in 2015, and back in May, Max Muncy argued balls and strikes before ultimately delivering a game-winning hit.