BALTIMORE — Rays manager Joe Maddon decided he had seen — and heard — enough.
So when a fifth-inning call Wednesday by second-base umpire Brian Knight — that Kelly Johnson was out trying to steal second even though it looked like he slid in ahead of the throw that C Matt Wieters double-pumped — was the latest in a sequence the Rays feel have been blatantly against them, Maddon spoke up.
And a few minutes later, he was out of the game, his first ejection this season, 28th of his Rays career.
"The same old record was playing out there, and I didn't want to listen to it again, that's all," Maddon said.
"At some point you have to fight for your boys and take back what's yours. You just can't put up with stuff all the time, and you have to let it be known."
PRICE searches for W: LHP David Price was gleeful, and boastful, after hitting a couple balls out of the park during the pitchers' first on-field batting practice before the game. But he'll be all business tonight, taking the mound for the fourth time still in search of his first win.
"I want to win games, but most importantly I want the Rays to win the game when I'm out there on the mound,'' he said. "That's something I take pride in. Whether or not I get the win, I still want us to win. That's something we haven't done this year. And that does kind of eat at you a little bit.''
Price pitched well in two of his first three starts. Maddon said there is no reason to be concerned about their ace, but did acknowledge there is more there than Price has yet showed, and he expects to see it as the season progresses and the weather warms.
"Honestly I just believe it's a matter of his fastball coming to life like it normally does, and everything will play off of that. … That little bit more consistent 95 or 96, it's incredible how much difference that one mile an hour can make in a miss or a foul ball or a ball put in play.''
TOUGH INTRO: SS Yunel Escobar, hitting just .104 and dropped to ninth in the order, isn't sure what is the cause of his slow start.
"It's really disappointing; this is the first time in his career that he ever started like that,'' RHP Joel Peralta said, in translating Escobar's answers. "He's trying his best to work really hard to get back. The season is young and he hopes pretty soon he'll start doing what he knows how to do.''
Escobar, who is primarily a ground ball hitter, has not been making much hard contact. He showed better on Wednesday, with a lineout to center and an RBI single.
Before, and again after the game, Maddon praised him for keeping a positive attitude despite his struggles.
"He needs a couple base hits to fall," Maddon said. "I want him to continue to work like he has; his work's been really good. It's got to be frustrating for him in a sense, but he comes out with a joy to play every day and I do appreciate that."
FORCE FIELD: DH Luke Scott said he had his "best day yet" in terms of running on his previously strained right calf and was "pretty darn close" to being ready for a rehab assignment, the last step before his return.
Maddon, however, said Scott has not yet run at game speed, which he has to do, thus rehab may not be imminent. Also, the Rays are going to take their time because they "don't want this to be a lingering kind of thing, like if you come back too soon."
MISCELLANY: Top prospect Wil Myers extended his streak of reaching base to all 12 of Triple-A Durham's games. … The Rays on Tuesday saw 187 pitches, the 57th time they saw that many in a nine-inning game and only the eighth time they lost. Johnson saw 35 alone.