CHICAGO — The Rays once again failed to do much with the bats Sunday, posting exactly just one run and four hits for a staggering fifth time in the first nine games of their season gone awry, in losing 6-1 to the White Sox.
And they didn't pitch particularly well either this time, Jeff Niemann getting pulled in the third inning — and being, at the least, surprised about it — after putting them in a five-run hole.
So manager Joe Maddon took it upon himself to provide the highlights, as well as the metaphor, charging onto the field for an aggressive, animated and — given how he pointed at each of the umpires — amusing tirade that led to his sixth-inning ejection.
And while Maddon insisted his response was specifically to the reversal of a call at first base, his players saw it — given their abysmal 1-8 start and the circumstances around it — for a bit more.
"It was a little bit of a picture of how frustrating things have become," infielder Sean Rodriguez said. "And he was showing his frustration."
"It's definitely frustrating," centerfielder B.J. Upton said. "I think Joe's kind of starting to feel it, too. That was … everything that's gone on up to this point. I don't think it was just that call. I think it was an accumulation of things that happened over the last nine or 10 days. He wants to win just like the rest of us do. So I don't know what else to say."
Maddon had plenty to say about the call. Dan Johnson was initially ruled safe at first when Doug Eddings ruled pitcher Gavin Floyd bobbled the ball thrown to him. But then Johnson was called out — after a visit by Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and a quick huddle — by second-base umpire Dana DeMuth, taking what would have been the Rays' second run off the board and ending the sixth inning.
Maddon raced out, getting in Eddings' face and going face to face extensively with DeMuth before being ejected. Then Maddon had his turn, pointing at each of the four umpires as if he was ejecting them, a maneuver he said he last used in the mid 1980s in the Texas League.
And he wasn't done, heading to the dugout then back out for further discussion — briefly about protesting the game, which he couldn't because it was a judgment call — with home-plate umpire Paul Nauert.
Maddon's complaint, simply, was it was Eddings' call, and only Eddings' call, and not one to be overturned by another umpire across the field. "I've never seen that call made before, where an umpire calls a bobble and then it's overturned from a great distance," he said. "I really did not like that — obviously."
Maddon said if that play could be overturned, then the other umpires should have stepped in last June after an obviously blown call at first cost Detroit's Armando Galarraga his perfect game. And further, if those types of calls are going to be overturned, it should be done with TV replays and indisputable evidence.
The umpires involved in the play left the stadium before they could be sought for comment.
Maddon wasn't in much of a good mood anyway after Niemann gave up a pair of homers in the first, two more runs (though unearned due to leftfielder Sam Fuld dropping a fly ball), and two straight walks to start the third leading to another run.
"He was not good," Maddon said of Niemann, who threw 46 pitches. "A lot of things were up in the zone. They jumped on him early. He was unable to make an adjustment. I didn't see it getting any better for him right there."
Maddon said he believes the issues are mechanical and said Niemann hasn't been in top form since the middle of last season, before he went on the disabled list for three weeks with a shoulder strain.
Niemann disagreed with the assessment — saying he felt great and "everything was sharp" — as well as the early hook: "(Wasn't) really out there long enough to get a true feel for it."
It was kind of a short day all around.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.