ST. PETERSBURG -- Victor Martinez has a pretty unshakable rule for opposing pitchers. "Whoever throws at my head," he said, "I'm going to go after them." Martinez thought Rays left-hander J.P. Howell threw at his head in the eighth inning of Friday's 8-7 loss at Tropicana Field, and he made his frustration known. After ducking out of the way of the high and inside fastball, Martinez stepped toward the mound, yelled and pointed at Howell before home-plate umpire Greg Gibson intervened.
"I don't like that, throwing at my head," Martinez said. "If you want to hit somebody, [throw at] a different spot. But don't throw at the head." Howell shrugged off the whole incident. "I was just pitching, man, playing ball," he said. "I mean, whatever. I threw a pitch in. Whatever. Where the ball was, if his face was in that area, you make up your own mind what you think. I just threw a pitch barely in, a little up. And whatever. He didn't like it. I don't know what that is." Martinez wasn't the only member of the Tribe who blew his top on this night. Manager Eric Wedge watched the incident from the visitors' clubhouse because he was ejected in the third inning. "I don't know if there was any intent there, but [Howell] was definitely throwing right at [Martinez's] head," Wedge said. "I don't know if it was a mistake or what it was, but I have no problem with him being upset." Wedge got upset when Gibson called Mark DeRosa out on a play at the plate in the third. DeRosa had tried to score from second on a Jamey Carroll single to center, and B.J. Upton's throw to catcher Dioner Navarro was on target. But it appeared on replay that DeRosa's foot slid in past Navarro's shin guard and hit the plate before Navarro received the ball. "He was safe," Wedge said. "That's what I saw. Greg's a good umpire, but I felt he was in a bad position. I had no intention of getting thrown out, but it got a little heated. I got upset, he got upset and there it was." Between the ejection, the pitch toward the head and the dropped 7-0 lead, the Indians had plenty to be upset about on this night.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.