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Orioles' Brian Matusz ejected from Saturday's game for foreign substance

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There was something sticky on Orioles reliever Brian Matusz's arm in Saturday's game and he was ejected. He'll probably be suspended.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Reliever Brian Matusz was unceremoniously bounced from the 12th inning of the Orioles' Saturday game against the Marlins for what appeared to be a foreign substance on his body.

After retiring the first two batters in the 12th inning, Marlins GM/manager Dan Jennings had the umpires go out and check Matusz. Umpire Paul Emmel swiped a finger across Matusz's right forearm and it seemed that whatever he came across, he found to be in violation of baseball's rules. Matusz was ejected from the game and replaced by T.J. McFarland, who ended up being the losing pitcher after giving up a walkoff hit in the 13th inning.

A similar situation recently played out with Brewers pitcher Will Smith, who was ejected from a game after a foreign substance was spotted on his person. Smith was suspended for eight games for that incident, although he is appealing the suspension and it may yet be reduced.

Most of the time it seems like this kind of stuff is tacitly accepted in the game of baseball, so it was a surprise in that sense that Matusz was popped for it. Was that Jennings trying to make a point, or did Matusz somehow violate the "don't be blatant" standard? If this rule is now going to be strictly enforced, can we somehow make sure that Clay Buchholz is ejected every time he steps on the mound?

The Fox TV cameras never got a close-up of any obvious glob of stuff on Matusz's arm, which is usually the case in these situations, such as last year when Michael Pineda was busted for using pine tar. They did, however, show Matusz rather obviously gripping his forearm after he receiving the ball on a couple of occasions. He had a look on his face of a child who thinks he's being sneaky and getting away with looking at the test of the student sitting next to him, only it turns out the teacher was looking right at him.

Matusz declined to offer any comment about the matter to the Orioles beat writers in attendance. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly relayed that manager Buck Showalter would only say that "the umpires ruled that it was a sticky substance on Matusz." And by the way, I just checked with her, and that's not what she said.

The fallout that comes from this, whether Showalter decides to counter gamesmanship with gamesmanship in Sunday's game, and for that matter how long Matusz might eventually be suspended, remains to be seen.