Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo was intent on arguing with plate umpire Tim Timmons when he left the dugout Sunday, following a called third strike on Arizona’s A.J. Pollock. However, Lovullo said something to which Yadier Molina took great offense, and the Cardinals catcher charged at the manager in an unusual scene that quickly cleared the benches in St. Louis.

Timmons got between Molina and Lovullo, but he was pushed aside, precipitating the second-inning incident. Remarkably, Lovullo was the only one ejected; Molina not only stayed in the game but subsequently scored the Cardinals’ only run in their 4-1 loss.

After the game, Molina reportedly claimed that Lovullo twice called him a “motherf—–,” adding, “If you’re going to call somebody that, you better be ready to fight.”

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Lovullo acknowledged that he “used a poor choice of words” and Molina “took offense” to his remarks. “I wish I could take back what I said, but it really wasn’t directed at him. I was just frustrated over what I was watching,” Lovullo added.

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The second-year manager said that he had “the upmost respect for Yadier Molina,” calling him “one of the best catchers the game has ever seen.”

Lovullo’s gripe was that Molina was employing some tricks of the trade to fool Timmons into seeing things his way. On the pitch in question, it appeared that Pollock had taken a pitch below the strike zone but that the catcher quickly lifted his glove and gotten a favorable call.

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“It was more of me saying, I respect him on that level, that he’s getting special things because he’s that good,” Lovullo said of Molina. “That’s where I was coming from.”

Timmons played down the incident, saying, “So when Lovullo got to me after I had ejected him, he made a comment that was aggressive that Yadi overheard, so that’s why Yadi reacted the way that he did. I think at that point Yadi became agitated, which was understandable. [The contact] was just incidental.”

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MLB officials may not agree with Timmons once they review the episode and decide whether to fine or suspend Molina. An eight-time all-star considered among the finest catchers in the game, Molina is also somewhat known for having a temper, while the ejection marked the third of Lovullo’s career.

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“I hope that MLB sees this, and I hope they fine this guy,” Molina said of Lovullo. “Because you cannot allow that. You can’t talk to a player like that or an umpire. You’ve got to be professional.”

“I never thought someone arguing a third-strike call was going to create a benches-clearing brawl,” Pollock said. “But we stuck together as a team. We all have Torey’s back.”

The Diamondbacks would get the last laugh, scoring four times in the seventh and eighth innings, including on a home run by Pollock. Arizona is now 7-2 and has a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, while St. Louis fell to 4-5, three games behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central.

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