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Bizarre finish to a dismal weekend
Angels 7, Rays 5: Tampa Bay compounds its frustration with the umpires with its own poor play, and things get ugly.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 17, 2006
Joe Maddon argues with first base umpire Marty Foster in the fifth inning of Sunday's game against the Angels. Foster ejected Maddon from the game.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Signs of frustration were obvious throughout the Rays clubhouse Sunday afternoon.
The hoarseness in manager Joe Maddon's voice from his heated nose-to-nose argument with umpire Marty Foster. The ugly scratch marks on Dioner Navarro's left arm from his scary collision with Vladimir Guerrero's spikes. The incredulousness in Travis Lee's explanation of his ejection. The disappointment in Julio Lugo's eyes as he described his team's performance as one of the "ugliest" he had seen.
Among numerous interesting and eventful moments, it was the result that mattered most, a maddening 7-5 loss to the Angels that concluded a lost weekend to open the second half of the season.
"It was just a frustrating day," starter Casey Fossum said. "It seemed like it should have turned out a little better for us."
The Rays (39-53) were most frustrated by the umpiring, as a bizarre fifth-inning sequence started with them leading 3-0 and ended with the Angels scoring two runs, Maddon and Lee ejected and the momentum seriously altered.
The inning began with another missed call, as Lee made an acrobatic grab of Lugo's slightly errant throw from shortstop and - from all replay angles - clearly tagged Robb Quinlan before he crossed first.
First-base umpire Foster didn't see it that way and Maddon, mindful that two calls at first went against the Rays on Saturday, got into an animated exchange with Foster and was ejected for the second time this season, both against his former Angels team.
Maddon said he started by asking Foster to check with plate umpire Bill Welke (who made the two contested calls Saturday), then got increasingly irate when Foster refused.
"Based on the previous plays at first base over the past couple days, I felt it was necessary that I stayed out there a little bit longer," Maddon said, "which resulted in me staying out there a lot less."
Lee was upset, too, wondering why the umpires wouldn't conference on the play, though his grumbling was less obvious.
But when Howie Kendrick followed with a double, Lee threw up his arms in frustration and Foster tossed him.
Fossum said he tried to not let the disruptions affect him - "It seemed like I was doing a lot more standing on the field than pitching," he said - but the results proved otherwise. Jose Molina followed with a single to center, and when Rocco Baldelli misplayed the bounce, both runs scored.
Another odd sequence in the sixth put the Angels ahead. Guerrero was called safe at second on the back end of a double steal on another call the Rays felt was wrong. "As usual, the umpire wins," said bench coach Bill Evers, who took over for Maddon.
After Fossum walked Juan Rivera to load the bases, Quinlan hit a single to left that scored Orlando Cabrera with the tying run. Guerrero looked to be an easy out, but he came in hard and his left foot sliced Navarro's forearm, jarring the ball loose to make it 4-3.
Navarro rolled on the ground in pain, saying his green wristband prevented a dangerous cut. Rivera tried to score, too, though Fossum recovered the ball and tagged him out. That play led to Jonny Gomes' momentary ejection as he threw a towel on the field for Navarro, which Foster apparently considered an act of disrespect, though he reversed the call when it was explained otherwise.
The Rays came back to tie it at 5 in the seventh, but Chad Harville, who allowed a grand slam Saturday, failed again, as two singles, a double and a wild pitch put the Angels up to stay 7-5.
Maddon said the odd events were frustrating.
Lugo was not as kind.
"One of the ugliest games I've ever seen," Lugo said. "We just didn't play good. We're going to lose games, but we didn't make plays when we needed to. We just didn't know how to handle situations. We just need to figure out a way to win."