Tempers flared in the first inning of Cleveland's 8-4 loss to the A's on Wednesday night, resulting in Cabrera's first ejection of the season. The shortstop threw a fit over a questionable strike three call and was sent to the showers as a result.
Indians manager Manny Acta felt strongly that Darling made the wrong call.
"It's unfortunate," Acta said. "Clearly, everybody knows that he missed the pitch."
Acta removed another one of his players later in the contest, pulling catcher Carlos Santana in the seventh inning due to a lack of hustle. The manager said Santana appeared "sluggish" while running down the first-base line after a couple of at-bats.
Acta decided to deliver the catcher a message.
"Carlos is fine," Acta said. "He looked a little sluggish, kind of tired. We have already talked about that. We can be beat, but we're not going to be looking beaten out there. We need full effort from everybody."
Lou Marson took over behind the plate for Cleveland.
Cabrera's situation was decidedly different.
With one out in the opening frame, A's lefty Travis Blackley snapped over a 3-2 breaking ball that catcher Derek Norris gloved just above the dirt and inside. Cabrera dropped his bat -- ready to take his base -- when Darling ruled the pitch a strike for the inning's second out.
Cabrera immediately confronted Darling, yelling at the umpire before finally emphatically pointing a finger in his face. Darling wasted no time in motioning for Cabrera's ejection, but the argument persisted for several moments near home plate.
Acta headed onto the field to separate Cabrera from Darling, and to continue the heated debate on the shortstop's behalf.
"I guess what got Cabrera mad," Acta said, "was [Darling] did what a majority of them do: never admit being wrong. That kind of got him to say the wrong words out there. When English is not your first language, I don't think you can argue for too long before dropping inappropriate words to those guys. I guess he went too far right off the bat."
Cabrera, a two-time American League All-Star, was replaced in the lineup's second spot by infielder Jack Hannahan, who took over at third base. Brent Lillibridge got the start at third, but shifted to shortstop after Cabrera was tossed.
Entering the night, Cabrera was hitting .274 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs through 118 games for the Indians, who have lost 13 of 14 and are 5-26 across their past 31 contests. During that stretch, the shortstop has experienced a second-half fade at the plate.
"What's hard," Acta said, "is that we spent a lot of time [before the game] talking to Cabrera about how his struggles as of late, over the last month or so, is because he's been chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone, and how he needs to be more patient.
"Then he worked a tremendous at-bat there, ended up getting the walk and then [Darling] missed the pitch."