ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rays manager Joe Maddon insisted his players could handle any embarrassment from having a third perfect game thrown against them in four seasons.
But Maddon wasn't going to tolerate the criticism for his tactics in getting ejected and prolonging the argument with the umpires during Felix Hernandez's perfect game Wednesday.
Maddon fired back Thursday at those critics, including Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who suggested Maddon was more interested in delaying and disrupting Hernandez from continuing his masterpiece than discussing umpire Rob Drake's strike zone. Maddon also accused Drake of addressing the Tampa Bay hitters in a less-than-proper manner.
"It had everything to do with us trying to win the game," Maddon said. "All game I'd been hearing how big (Drake's strike zone) was against left-hand hitters, and furthermore, I'm listening to our guys, and there was kind of an abrasiveness in the way it was handled from the ump to our players, which I didn't like, either."
Maddon said when he could tell from the dugout how bad a seventh-inning pitch to Matt Joyce was that was called a strike, he had had enough and had to do something in defense of his hitters.
"And on top of all that, that game's 1-0," he said. "And on top of all that, we're trying to win a pennant. So it had nothing to do with delaying the other guy."
Plus, Maddon continued, it's not his job to be concerned about what accomplishment an opposing player is approaching.
"With all due respect, I don't care about that whatsoever, whether he pitches a perfect game, a no-hitter, whatever," Maddon said. "I have no interest at all in the success of the Seattle Mariners. I have zero interest in that. So however it's perceived from the other side, that is a matter of perception, how they're going to look at things.
"From my perspective, it's about the Rays, period. And what's right for our guys at a specific moment. And I'll always defend our guys first as opposed to trying to put an opposition member into some form of the history book."
Similarly, Maddon said there would have been nothing wrong with a Rays player trying, at any point, to bunt for a hit. That would go against one of baseball's so-called unwritten rules in dealing with a no-hitter/perfect game, but those rules are "archaic," he said.
"A lot of that stuff to me is ill-advised, ill-informed, just ill," Maddon said. "Why is bunting a nonmasculine way of getting on first base? I don't understand that."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]