ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 01: Umpire Dana DeMuth argues with pitcher J.P Howell #74 of the Tampa Bay Rays as bench coach Dave Martinez #4 intervenes against the St. Louis Cardinals during the game at Tropicana Field on July 1, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
0 Total Updates since July 2, 2011
almost 2 years ago Update 0 comments
An RBI double from Evan Longoria and a two run homerun from Matt Joyce were all the Rays could muster in Game One against the St. Louis Cardinals. And that was in the bottom of the eighth. Until that point the Rays had gone scoreless and the game reached a boiling point with J.P. Howell on the mound.
After seven innings the game stood 2-0 in St. Louis's favor. Howell came into the game with a rough season on his back and an 8.44 ERA. Barely a month returned from over a season on the Disabled List, Howell is looking to earn the respect of the management and return to prowess. He took the mound in relief of Wade Davis, who'd had a third terrific start in a row, guns blazing. He sat the first two men without difficulty.
Then, with Lance Berkman batting and a 2-2 count, Howell pitched what looked to be the inning ending strike three. Observe:
See that green dot in the bottom of the strike zone? That'd be what home plate umpire Vic Carapazza called Ball Three. Joe Maddon was quick to argue and from the dug out earned his 21st career ejection after Berkman walked on Ball Four.
Howell then continued to struggle with the erratic strike zone from the Triple-A call-up umpire (did I forget to mention that?) as he walked David Freese. Howell was increasingly agitated and it proved to be too much for him, starting with a balk before walking Freese. Colby Rasmus then came to the plate and drove a three-run homer around the foul pole in right for the Red Birds to take the lead 5-0.
Before Ramus was even across home plate, Howell had to be physically restrained by the catcher John Jaso and bench coach/acting manager Dave Martinez, including this freak-out. Howell threw his glove then swatted away and spiked the baseball from the umpire, requiring a new one. Carapazza tried to ignore him, but he'd reached his limit when Howell demanded a new ball.
From our Rays affiliate DRaysBay: "It's easy to understand Howell's rage in that situation. I know there are some of you that have been overly critical of Howell this season, but he should have been out of the inning unscathed. Instead the deficit jumped from an in reach two runs, to a seemingly out of reach five... It's tough enough when it's an established veteran umpire, but when its someone out of his element the knife cuts a bit deeper. Should Howell be excused for the three run home run? Probably not. But it shouldn't of come to that in the first place."
Defending their team mate and also upset with the strike zone, David Price and Elliott Johnson were each ejected from the dugout for arguing as well. Price would tell mlb.com there was no cursing or name-calling involved, but they were shown the door regardless.
Longo and Joyce put the Rays on the board with three runs shortly after, but it was not enough and the Rays dropped Game One.