ST. LOUIS — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected for the fourth time this season Tuesday, but he said he was tossed for all the wrong reasons.
Maddon said he was not yelling at home plate umpire Mark Ripperger after Ben Zobrist was called out on a check swing. Rather, Maddon said he was yelling at St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who Maddon said was yelling at the Rays’ dugout.
“Umpires yelling in your dugout, other players yelling in your dugout, you never stand for that,” Maddon said. “I got in a lot of trouble back in the day when an umpire came toward our dugout. I don’t like that.”
The exchange took place during the third inning of the Rays’ 7-2 win at Busch Stadium.
With the count full, Zobrist took a pitch that he felt was off the plate, tossed his bat and started toward first base. Ripperger called it strike three. Zobrist briefly argued before heading to the dugout.
“It was way too early to get kicked out. It was a misunderstanding,” Maddon said after the game. “I first started yelling at the home plate umpire. I did, because I did not want their pitcher to get a wide strike zone tonight.
“And anytime Zobrist argues, you must defend. That’s one of the unwritten rules of the universe.”
Wainwright, who started for the National League in the July 15 All-Star Game, entered the game with a major league-low 1.83 ERA. Nine of his first 18 starts were scoreless. He allowed only four runs in his previous six starts.
Maddon felt Wainwright didn’t need any help from Ripperger, which is why he complained from the dugout that the pitch to Zobrist was outside.
Then Maddon said Wainwright began yelling at the Rays’ dugout.
“Then their pitcher starts yelling in the dugout. So I’m yelling at him and the umpire thinks I’m yelling at the umpire and he kicks me out,” Maddon said. “I went out there and said, ‘Listen, I’m yelling at their pitcher, not you.’ And then here comes KD (crew chief Kerwin Danley) in from third base. ‘KD, defend me right here.’ (He says) ‘I didn’t see anything.’ I said OK, so then I had to wear it at that particular moment. I was yelling at the umpire. I thought the zone was too wide for their pitcher and their pitcher yells at me, and we don’t necessarily take that.”
When asked again if Wainwright was yelling at Maddon, Maddon said, “Absolutely.”
When asked if he yelled back at Wainwright, Maddon said, “Absolutely.”
Wainwright told reporters after the game that he did yell at Maddon.
“It was the first time I ever did that,” Wainwright said. “I was ready to pitch and I thought it was time for us to move on, and I said so.”
When asked if he felt he violated one of baseball’s unwritten rules of in-game etiquette, Maddon said, “Of course not. If anybody ever yells in our dugout, you just can’t do that.”
Maddon said it was the first time he could remember an opposing player yelling into the Rays’ dugout.
When asked what he thought of Wainwright’s actions, Maddon said, “I loved it. I thought it was tremendous. I’m all about that. It was great. … I’m not going to indict his professionalism. I just really enjoyed the exchange.”