ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon signed the lineup card for Joe Nathan's 300th career save and gave it to the Texas Rangers closer.
Maddon considers the gesture routine for landmark baseball moments. This one ended up symbolizing his attempt to move on after home plate umpire Marty Foster's botched call on a game-ending strike three bailed out Nathan.
Maddon blocked the umpires at their exit to the tunnel after Monday night's 5-4 loss, could be seen mouthing "That can't happen in a major league game" and tweeted the same thing soon after the game.
Less than 24 hours later, he appreciated Foster acknowledging he missed the call on the full-count pitch, both in a conversation with the manager and a statement to reporters.
"I really respect him a lot for checking in about that," Maddon said. "For me, for us, it's over with. I think it shows a lot on his part."
Major League Baseball agreed Tuesday, with spokesman Mike Teevan saying by email that crew chief Tim Welke and Foster handled the situation properly.
Ben Zobrist said he wasn't angry when the call went against him. He was too shocked — so stunned that he put both hands on his helmet and yanked it off, then somehow just gently placed it on the ground.
"I felt no anger whatsoever toward Marty or toward the call," said Zobrist, who thought he had drawn a walk that would bring Evan Longoria to the plate with the tying run at second base. "I was honestly just questioning it like, 'How did you make that call? What happened?'"
The video of an incredulous Zobrist and an incensed Maddon didn't immediately resonate nationally because it came late in Louisville's victory over Michigan in the NCAA championship game.
But it still made some rounds late Monday — Zobrist got his share of texts about it — and was part of the buzz for national talk shows Tuesday. A bemused Zobrist watched some of that from the Rays' clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark.
Oh, and Zobrist said he slept fine.
"It would have been tougher if I had swung a bad pitch," he said.
Nathan said his postgame texts were all congratulatory for his milestone save — nothing about friends or family not believing what they just saw. He didn't believe it, since he was caught on camera saying "wow" as he was greeted by catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
But he'll take it.
"We're not going to see this as a huge break for because there will be some that go against us," Nathan said. "We'll just take this as it is — a win."
Nathan also was pleasantly surprised to get the Rays' lineup card, with Maddon writing "Congrats. Outstanding career. Keep it going!" before signing it.
"Even though I know he probably wasn't too excited by the call there at the end, still nice enough of him to sign that along with the nice message," Nathan said.
Longoria didn't see what happened because — like everyone else — he thought it was a ball and was getting ready for his at-bat. While he hopes the Rays don't end up one game out of the playoffs at season's end, he was trying to minimize the drama in his own way.
"The thing that I kind of told myself last night, although I like to think that I have all the confidence in the world in myself and being able to go up there and get a hit, it wasn't like the bases were loaded and a run was being scored on that play," Longoria said. "We all make mistakes."
Both sides agreed on that.
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- Joe Nathan
- Ben Zobrist
- Evan Longoria