ATLANTA -- Frustrated over a called third strike with runners at second and third to end the second inning, Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki earned his first ejection of the season during Thursday night's game against the Braves at Turner Field.
Home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson called a 2-2 curveball from Braves right-hander Julio Teheran a strike, thus ending a possible rally by the Rockies, who were trailing, 2-1. The Rockies got on the board in the frame on a sacrifice fly by Corey Dickerson. But it's been a rough week for Colorado. The Braves won, 11-2, to sweep the four-game series.
Television replay graphics backed Hudson's ruling that the pitch was in the strike zone, but Tulowitzki felt certain the third strike was low.
"I didn't think the first and third pitch were strikes," Tulowitzki said. "He kept on saying they were. We went back and forth. There was no cussing or anything like that. I was telling him the ball was down. He just kept on saying, 'It was a good pitch,' and I said, 'No, no.' I kept disagreeing with him."
Tulowitzki, who took called strikes on the first two pitches of the six-pitch at-bat and later fouled off a delivery, argued with feeling for a few seconds, then dropped his bat and batting helmet and remained at the front of the right-handed batter's box. Hudson moved a few feet up the first-base line.
Tulowitzki's protest continued from a distance of about eight feet. Rockies first-base coach Rene Lachemann stood between the men but did not usher Tulowitzki away from the discussion. Finally, Hudson determined that the argument and Tulowitzki's night were over.
"When you're grinding a little bit -- this wasn't the best series for me -- and you feel like you're battling up there, fouling off some tough pitches, you get one pitch in that's not a strike, and you follow a curveball down to get to a full count, instead you get rung up, it's frustrating," said Tulowitzki.
Manager Walt Weiss, surprised Tulowitzki was sent away after a less-than-animated protest, emerged from the Rockies' dugout for a close-quarters discussion with Hudson. Weiss stayed close, but there were no animated gestures, and there was no ejection of the skipper.
"That was my argument: he wasn't in his face," Weiss said. "He wasn't showing him up. Marvin felt like he argued balls and strikes too long."
It was only the second time this year that the Rockies have experienced ejections in a game. On June 13, umpire Jon Hirschbeck ejected relief pitcher Wilton Lopez and John Reynolds tossed Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright after an inning in which Lopez was called for two balks.
Utility player Jonathan Herrera replaced Tulowitzki as an already strapped Rockies bench grew even thinner.
All-Star right fielder Michael Cuddyer was tending to a family situation and was not at Turner Field. All-Star left fielder Carlos Gonzalez was sitting because of a sprained right middle finger, an injury that has bothered him off and on for 3 1/2 weeks. With Herrera forced into the game, the bench consisted of a compromised Gonzalez, infielder-outfielder Charlie Culberson and backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
Tulowitzki, who struck out swinging in the first inning, left the game with a .320 batting average, 19 home runs and 59 RBIs.
"It's not something that's going through your mind right there," Tulowitzki said of the Rockies' short bench. "Now you look back on it, maybe.
"Who knows? Maybe you use it like a manager. Maybe guys see that it matters to me, they get a little bit fired up. I'm not saying it's the reason I did it."
Games with the Braves have resulted mostly in frustration for the Rockies and for Tulowitzki. The Rockies entered Thursday having dropped all but one of six meetings. Through the ejection, Tulowitzki went 1-for-21.
Thursday was the Rockies' last game against the Braves this season.
It was the third ejection of Tulowitzki's career. Ed Montague tossed him on Aug. 31, 2007, for throwing his helmet after a call at first base. Rob Drake ran him for protesting a called third strike on May 20, 2011.
"Oh yeah, it was a tough series," Tulowitzki said. "To drop that first game [blowing a 5-0 lead and losing, 9-8, in 10 innings], it is one of the tougher series I've ever been faced with."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.