“I turned as I ejected him for arguing balls and strikes, he bounced the helmet, it came up and hit me on the hip,” said Miller, in his 12th year umpiring in the majors.
An out later the Tampa Bay Rays were shaking hands after Rodney retired Colby Rasmus on a ground ball and the Rays had a 4-3 comeback win from a 3-0 deficit.
Miller’s second assailant was easy to spot.
Walking off the field, Miller dodged a rolled up paper cup hurled his way.
Then he was hit in the shoulder by a cup of beer. The umps pointed out the beer tosser to Mario Coutinho, vice-president, stadium operations and security.
“He was wearing a green/grey plaid shirt with a Blue Jays cap with last year’s logo and was in the second row,” said Coutinho. “He would have been charged with assault ... if we had been able to catch him.”
The beer tosser escaped police and security at the top of the section.
An all-points bulletin and roadblocks are no doubt being set up for “a male wearing a green/grey plaid shirt with a Blue Jays cap with a 2011 logo.”
Lawrie won’t be able to escape any dragnet.
He has to show up for work Wednesday night.
Whether he’ll be in the lineup or wearing suspenders — a week, 10 days? — will be up to Joe Garagiola, Jr., vice- president of standards and on-field operations for Major League Baseball in New York. Crew chief Dale Scott, Dan Iassogna, C.B. Bucknor and Miller will make their report and send it to New York.
The same umpiring crew will be at Rogers Centre Wednesday, too, along with the New York Yankees and the Jays.
So expect a quick ruling on Lawrie’s status.
Manager John Farrell, who raced from the third base dugout to keep Lawrie away from Miller, with help from Iassogna, then began to argue with Miller after Lawrie had left.
Farrell too was ejected for arguing “balls and strikes,” according to Miller.
Inside the Tampa Bay clubhouse the Rays watched as Lawrie explained to TV cameras in the Jays clubhouse, “it was not my intention at all (to hit him). I’ve never, ever done anything to an umpire before in my life and I didn’t mean to tonight. I apologize. It took an unlucky bounce ...”
“You idiot,” said Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann, “you threw the helmet right at him.”
Watching all of the third baseman tossing, the helmet tossing and the manager tossing by Lawrie and Miller unfold in stage I, stage II and stage III was Rays catcher Jose Molina.
“I was surprised, Brett is a awesome teammate,” Molina said, “He and I would talk a lot after he was called up to the Jays last year. I’d tell him, ‘Hey, this is the big leagues you don’t want to get a rep,’ ”
Lawrie has had his moments before the toss. There was his attempted steal of home with Jose Bautista hitting against Baltimore and his walk-off home run with the hang time of Leapin’ Lanny Poffo or Kendrys Morales, against the Texas Rangers.
Lawrie represented the tying run as Rodney fell behind 3-1. Molina went with a fastball. The board showed 95 m.p.h. and the replays showed Lawrie starting on the way to first, thinking ball four, and then coming back to the plate when he was told it was a strike and now a 3-2 count.
“Then, we threw the 3-2 change,” Molina said.
And Miller called strike three and Lawrie needed a time-out room.
“Hey, you can throw a helmet anywhere you want and get a fine — but you can’t throw it at an umpire and hit him,” Molina said. “That’s what happens in the heat of the moment.
“How many people in the park tonight don’t regret doing something that they’ve done in the heat of the moment?”