The Tampa Bay Rays lost a tough game to the Boston Red Sox, 4-3, Friday night in Fenway Park, putting them four games behind Boston and making their attempted run to overtake the Red Sox for the wild card that much tougher.
Rays manager Joe Maddon minced no words after the game; he claimed that Rays hitters were put at a disadvantage by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt:
“Obviously, I went out there to discuss the width of the strike zone, and I never mentioned anything about balls and strikes,” Maddon said after Friday’s game. "I was trying to have a conversation. He immediately threw me out. I said, ‘Listen, I’m not coming out here to argue. I just want to know what’s going on because my guys are talking about how wide it is.’ He didn’t like me asking that question. I wanted to be respectful. I didn’t yell. I walked out there and I thought I did it in a fashion where nobody else would know. I had no intention of getting kicked out right there. I just wanted to know what was going on, everybody keeps complaining about the width of the strike zone.
“So, I came back up [into the clubhouse] and watched it after that. And it was pretty egregious. There’s no question but let the court of public opinion prevail here. I think anybody who would watch that and would be pretty objective about things, I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever they have to say. It’s tough enough to beat Beckett but when he’s getting pitches on the [inside batter’s box] chalk lines, that makes it much more difficult.”
Several Rays were called out on strikes that Maddon felt were well wide of the plate; despite what he says was his “respectful” tone, Wendelstedt tossed him. The Rays could still have a shot at the wild card if they can win Saturday and Sunday, but Maddon left no doubt about who he blamed for Friday’s defeat:
“We’re still in good position if we could get [Saturday] and Sunday’s game,” Maddon said. “That puts us in pretty good shape but it was made much more difficult by the actions of the home plate umpire.”