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Emotions get best of Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford in high-stakes game

ST. PETERSBURG — LF Carl Crawford knew he shouldn't have gotten ejected from a game as important as Monday's opener of the showdown series with the Yankees.

But that turned out to be exactly why he got tossed.

"I didn't want to get kicked out of the game right there,'' Crawford said. "But games like this when your emotions run so high and you want to win so bad and you want to do good so bad, that stuff happens and it just takes a toll on you.''

Crawford's ninth-inning ejection — which created the opportunity for Reid Brignac to deliver the winning homer two innings later — was the culmination of a night's frustration with home-plate umpire Tom Hallion.

And after Hallion called Crawford out in the ninth for his third strikeout — even though Crawford admitted later the pitch probably was a strike — Crawford had had enough.

"Throughout the game I was getting frustrated and then that was just it,'' Crawford said. "I just kinda exploded.''

Manager Joe Maddon raced onto the field as Crawford first started his commentary to Hallion, but it was too late. "I went up and asked Tommy why he kicked him out and he told me,'' Maddon said. "And pretty much I had to go back to the dugout.''

MATT MAN: RHP Matt Garza said he knows what he did wrong in his last start, when he blew a 4-0 lead at Boston and allowed four homers, primarily a result of throwing his fastball "too hard" and leaving it elevated.

As he faces the Yankees tonight, Garza — sounding perhaps a bit humbled — said he hopes he fixed the problem.

"Can't really guarantee anything," he said. "Just go out there and toe it up and see what's up. I recognized what the issue was, yes. I worked on it in the bullpen and did all the work, so let's see if the results match."

PITCHING IN: LHP Jake McGee will be added to the roster today, adding a power lefty to the bullpen. McGee was dominant in 13 games at Triple-A Durham, going 1-1 with a 0.44 ERA and allowing one run, nine hits and four walks in 201/3 innings while striking out 32. … To help Triple-A Durham in the International League championships, RHP Mike Ekstrom was optioned back to the Bulls, but he will rejoin the Rays after the playoffs. … RHP Rafael Soriano, who didn't feel well overall Sunday before blowing a save, said he was in better shape Monday and looked it with a 1-2-3 ninth.

MARK OF Z: OF/2B Ben Zobrist warmed up in the cool weather of the road trip to Baltimore, Boston and Toronto, with eight hits and a team-leading 11 RBIs. The big difference, Maddon said, is that Zobrist is hitting the pitches he likes best, and hard.

"I think earlier in the season, a lot of pitches that he could really drive he was either taking or fouling back," Maddon said. "So that can speak to mechanics, and I know he's been working with (hitting coach Derek Shelton) a bit. But more than anything, I think it's a proverbial confidence thing right now."

MINOR MATTERS: Class A Charlotte lost to Tampa (Yankees) 9-0 and lost the Florida State League championship series in four games. League wins leader Joe Cruz gave up seven runs in 41/3 innings. … Triple-A Durham opens play tonight in the International League best-of-five championship round at Columbus (Indians), with Richard De Los Santos on the mound. On the decision of the Durham officials, the team bussed for the approximately 10-hour ride rather than fly. … SS Tim Beckham, the 2008 No. 1 overall pick, headlines the 45-man instructional league roster that opens workouts today in Port Charlotte and begins a 14-game schedule Sept. 20. Top draft picks OF Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson will make their first pro appearances.

GOOD DEEDS: RHP Dan Wheeler and executive VP Andrew Friedman will attend today's 11 a.m. dedication of the renovation of two fields at Clearwater's Ross Norton Park (1426 S MLK Jr. Ave.). … RHP James Shields was recognized pregame for being the Rays nominee for the Roberto Clemente award.

MISCELLANY: The previous longest 0-0 game at the Trop was May 19, 2009, when Oakland scored in the top of the 11th and won 4-1. … It was the first 1-0 extra-inning win, and 1-0 walkoff win, in franchise history. … The Rays logged their sixth walkoff win of the season, second by home run (Dan Johnson, vs. Boston Aug. 28). … The Rays are 17-5 the past two seasons against former Cy Young Award winners.

Emotions get best of Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford in high-stakes game 09/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 1:15am]
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