Minor league baseball managers don't often get ejected from back-to-back games - it simply costs too much. But the typically laid-back Mike Sarbaugh isn't often baited as much as he has been the last two nights, either.
Twenty-four hours after being tossed for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning of the Aeros 13-6 blowout loss to visiting Harrisburg Thursday at Canal Park, the Aeros rookie manager found himself heading into the home clubhouse early again Friday.
Sarbaugh's latest ejection came an inning earlier in another dismantling by Harrisburg in Friday's 14-7 loss. Just moments after J.D. Martin entered the game in relief of starter Chuck Lofgren, he appeared to nab Roger Bernadina at first base with his patented pick-off move.
But as a pumped-up Martin and his infield teammates began to jog off the field, home plate umpire Shaun Francis adamantly signaled balk. Not only did he point Bernadina toward second vase, but he also waived William Bergolla home from third to push the Senators advantage to 6-3.
Instantly Sarbaugh dashed out of the dugout to argue, but to no avail.
"I thought that call changed the whole complexion of that inning, and I think it changed the entire complexion of the game," he said.
Like Thursday's game, the rest of Friday's action was all down hill for the Aeros from there, save for a too-late two-run rally in the ninth. That's because Martin gave up a run-scoring triple to Justin Maxwell before a diving catch in center field by Jose Costanza ended the controversial inning.
Martin still hadn't settled down by the sixth, dishing up a two-run home run on a hanging curve to .212-hitting Ian Desmond as the visitors lead swelled to five runs.
With yet another blowout loss, the 7-13 Aeros dipped further into last-place oblivion in the Eastern League Southern Division, while the division-leading Senators (14-7) increased their cushion to 6.5 games ahead of Akron.
"Anytime you're in a little funk like we are now, definitely the frustration sets in,'' Sarbaugh said. "But like I told (the team) today, this is how you find out a little about yourself - through adversity. We just have to keep working and find our way through it.''
It's still early in the season, but if the young Aeros pitching doesn't get it turned it around soon, they'll have dug the team in a hole too deep for even the most talented hitting teams (which at this point appears to be Harrisburg and Binghamton) to dig out of.