Trio sent packing, and Rays are, too
By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
MARLINS 3, RAYS 1 (11): Lou Piniella, Aubrey Huff and bench coach John McLaren are tossed. Florida wins on a homer.
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2003
MIAMI - Poor Lou Piniella.
The Devil Rays manager could be living high on the hog in Seattle, managing the first-place Mariners.
Or, if the tabloids in New York had their way, he would be calling the shots for the fat-cat Yankees.
If nothing else, he could be retired with the sun on his face, sand in his toes and a cold beverage in his hands out on Redington Beach every day.
Instead, he lives through days like Friday when a hammer to the head seems more appealing.
First, he likely lost his starting shortstop for the season.
Then he found out two other starters have been suspended for brawling.
Then he blew a gasket and was ejected during another close loss, this time to the cross-state Marlins, 3-1 in 11 innings, before 12,515 at Pro Player Stadium.
The frustrating night for Tampa Bay boiled over in the top of the ninth when three Rays were ejected, including Piniella for the third time this season.
After Aubrey Huff was called out on strikes to end the inning, he slammed his helmet to ground as he walked away and was immediately ejected by home-plate umpire Chris Guccione.
When Piniella came out to argue, Guccione tossed him, too. Then bench coach John McLaren, who came on the field to get Piniella off the field, was thrown out for just the second time in 18 years when he argued with second-base umpire Jerry Meals.
Two innings later, Florida's Miguel Cabrera, making his major-league debut, ended the game with a two-run, walk-off homer in the 11th off Al Levine.
But the Rays were still fuming about the ejections after the game.
"The umpire used bad judgment," Piniella said. "Huff threw equipment. He wasn't upset at the umpire. It wasn't intended at the umpire. It was intended at himself. The umpire took it personally. He assumed (Huff) was mad at him. So then I went out and I made sure he was mad at me. And I guess McLaren did the same."
Huff said he didn't even know he was ejected until a teammate told him.
"I didn't know what was going on," Huff said. "(The pitcher) made a great pitch on me. I thought it was a strike. I was (ticked) at myself. ... That's why I threw my helmet."
Lost in the fireworks and late-inning dramatics was a fabulous pitching duel between the Rays' Rob Bell, making his second start of the year, and Florida's Mark Redman.
Bell became the third Rays starter in the past four games to give up one hit through six innings. He left after six and the score tied at 1.
"I focused on one thing: making each pitch that I threw," Bell said. "I did not focus on, "If I have a bad start, I'm going back to Triple A' Or, "If I pitch good, I'm going to get another start.' I just focused on pitching."
So did Redman, who set down 19 in a row at one stretch and pitched eight innings of one-run ball. The Rays had only five hits and have scored only three in the past 34 innings.
"The hitting is cold," Piniella said. "We're going to cut down on our hitting before the games and see if that helps. Take a different approach. Less is better."
Less was rotten Friday, and Cabrera's effort capped an overall rotten day for the Rays, who learned before the game that shortstop Rey Ordonez likely will have season-ending knee surgery and that Carl Crawford and Marlon Anderson were suspended three games each for last week's brawl with the Pirates.
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