Managers with struggling offenses often tell us the bats will heat up with the weather. Maybe that same theory applies to some of the more temperamental relievers around the league.
On Friday, we saw San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson(notes) take out his frustrations on several inanimate objects in the dugout. We also saw four Tampa Bay Rays get tossed in the eighth inning of their frustrating loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, including lefty J.P. Howell(notes), who not only spiked his glove but also slapped the baseball back in the general direction of home plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
Already angry at home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for a borderline pitch that was called in favor of Ryan Howard(notes), Rauch completely lost it one batter later when Shane Victorino(notes) singled to left field, scoring Chase Utley(notes) from second base on a bang-bang play at the plate.
Marquez's safe ruling was correct, but Rauch, who was backing up the throw, immediately got in the umpire's face.
Within seconds, manager John Farrell and catcher J.P. Arencibia(notes) were attempting to restrain Rauch, who actually fought his way out of his jersey before reinforcements were able to peel him away.
Afterwards Rauch revealed what he said to Marquez that got the ball rolling.
"The first thing I told the umpire was that 'It's a shame that he can't have an ERA because those runs are his,' " Rauch said. "He directly affected the outcome of the game. Missing one (call) I understand, the other one, who knows? He tossed me then. I wasn't really arguing balls and strikes at that point and it just got heated."
Just a bit.
"I'm not a small human," Rauch said. "I was kind of focused on what I had to say at that time. I got rung so I may as well get my money's worth."
After Rauch was finally escorted from the field, Farrell picked up the argument and was soon dismissed by Marquez. He also got his money's worth.
"I think there are times when you get a little more frustrated than others," Farrell said.
Apparently so. And it sounded like a good deal of that extra frustration stemmed from favorable calls they felt Roy Halladay(notes) received during his official return to Toronto. Halladay ended up going the distance for Philadelphia, picking up win No. 11.
"Look at him [Halladay], look what he's done in his career. I haven't done that," Rauch said. "Nobody on our staff's done that. But if you're going to call one strike zone the whole game it needs to stay that way the whole game."
Inconsistent strike zones have become the norm around Major League Baseball, so I guess it's not all that surprising pitchers not getting the benefit of the doubt are getting fed up. Now I kind of wonder if these over-the-top on-field run-ins are just getting started, or if we're simply going through an isolated stretch of craziness. I guess only time will tell on that.