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Rays' woes go beyond teammates' strife

ARLINGTON, Texas — Their starting pitcher and catcher had a dugout dustup that was caught by the TV cameras, but that wasn't all that went wrong for the Rays on Sunday.

"Kind of an ugly day all around," Eric Hinske said.

They made two errors in the game — for the first time since April 22 — and looked bad in doing so, certainly for a team that had led the league in fielding percentage. CF B.J. Upton and RF Gabe Gross crossed paths to botch a fly ball (with Upton getting the error) and SS Jason Bartlett booted a ground ball, plus a blooper dropped between Bartlett and LF Carl Crawford that led to a run.

They made mistakes on the mound, allowing three home runs, including by the Nos. 8 (Ramon Vazquez) and 9 (German Duran) hitters. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight on.

And they let their frustrations show. With the bench already down to three players due to Jonny Gomes' suspension, Hinske got ejected after disputing a called third strike in the sixth after they'd narrowed the Texas lead to 4-2.

"Not a pretty day at all," Crawford said.

SURPRISE EXIT: Hinske said he didn't think he deserved to be ejected by umpire James Hoye and apologized to manager Joe Maddon for leaving the team short-handed.

"I thought it was a ball," Hinske said. "I let him know I thought it was a ball. I said it was outside. I said it was a (expletive) call to him, and he ran me. I was walking away when I said it, and I thought it was a pretty quick trigger. I've said a lot worse to umpires in my career and didn't get thrown out."

HE'S BACK: Maddon is 0-8 as a visiting manager in Anaheim, where he worked for so long and still lives in the offseason. And as much as that must rankle him, and give Angels personnel ammo to rib him, he said there is a reason for it — the Angels are good, and the Rays haven't been. (Plus, the Rays struggled there before he was hired, going 13-27.)

"It's very much a homecourt advantage; it rivals Boston in a lot of ways," Maddon said. "The facility, and it's all red, people really into their team, and they've got a good product on the field. They've been winning recently. There's a lot of good things going on out there that make it a tough place to enter into."

HIM TOO, SORT OF: Troy Percival had been looking forward to getting back on the mound at Angel Stadium. The last time was April 2, 2007, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to mark his retirement as an Angel, the crowd roaring in appreciation.

But his return won't be quite as dramatic because he is on the DL with a left hamstring strain, and the only pitching he'll do will be a "simulated" inning today or Tuesday as he prepares to be reinstated Friday.

"I was hoping to get a chance to pitch off that mound," Percival said. "I'll have to settle for that."

BUD FUND: The Rays disciplined for last week's brawl in Boston got their formal letters Sunday notifying them of their suspensions and fines. The going rate seemed to be $500 for each suspended game as Gomes and James Shields (who got a slight discount) were fined $2,500, Crawford and Edwin Jackson and $2,000 and Akinori Iwamura around $1,500.

MISCELLANY: Upton homered for the second time in three games and increased his average to .301 and his on-base percentage to .412. … Maddon gave DH Cliff Floyd, 1-for-12 on the trip, another day off to keep Willy Aybar in the lineup (with Hinske at DH) and will do so again tonight against lefty Joe Saunders. … The Rays made no announcements, but according to local media reports, No. 6 draft pick RHP Shane Dyer and No. 13 RHP Jason McEachern signed.

Rays' woes go beyond teammates' strife 06/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 5:19pm]
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