CHICAGO — DH Paul Konerko said he just wanted to know what RHP Grant Balfour was screaming about Friday during the ninth inning, and that’s how the two began yelling at each other after Konerko drew a walk in the middle of the Chicago’s five-run rally.
“He obviously likes to come in real close after every pitch, stare at the hitter. It’s something he’s always done. Whatever. It’s part of his thing. No big deal,” Konerko said Saturday. “But on the last one, I heard a lot of yelling as I was going down the line and I didn’t know if it was directed my way, and I wasn’t going to have somebody yell that close to me.”
Balfour said he told Konerko he was yelling at himself, though in replays of the incident it appeared as if Balfour might have yelled something more.
“I always walk in after I pitch to get the ball, and I kind of look in there. It’s what I do,” Balfour said. “I went in there to get another ball and I was just yelling. I was (mad) at myself. You saw how much I missed by on that pitch, and it was a big pitch. I needed outs, and I was frustrated I couldn’t make a pitch in the zone to get him out.”
Balfour’s fiery mound manner has ticked off hitters in the past, namely White Sox SS Orlando Cabrera in the 2008 playoffs and Tigers DH Victor Martinez in last year’s postseason.
“He’s got to understand if he’s going to yell that close to people you’re going to get a guy every now and again who is going to ask why and take exception to it,” Konerko said.
Said Rays manager Joe Maddon: “I think of it as, no harm, no foul. Grant’s done that a lot. Probably uncharacteristic for Paul, but he did what he thought he had to do, and I don’t blame him.”
Balfour said he wasn’t upset by Konerko’s reaction.
“That’s fine,” Balfour said. “I totally respect the guy.”
No, for the blown save
The Rays became the last team in the majors this year to blow a save when Balfour allowed those five ninth-inning runs in Friday’s 9-6 loss.
Balfour walked three batters and allowed two hits — the last being a grand slam from 1B Jose Abreu. He said he was trying to avoid pitching to contact and relied too much on his breaking pitches.
“I think he’s not seeing 94 (mph) on the (stadium radar) gun,” Maddon said. “If the gun wasn’t up there, he’s probably throwing the fastball more with really good results. That’s all it is. His fastball, even at a little less velocity, still has the same, similar good movement to it, and it’s a matter of trust right now. But that’s one moment where the gun actually hurts a pitcher, because if you pay too much time paying attention to that you’re going to make some mistakes.”
Maddon said Balfour’s fastball is just as effective in the low 90s as it is when it reaches the mid 90s.
OF/DH Matt Joyce set the team record for walks in a game Friday with five.
“Obviously I saw the ball well,” Joyce said. “I just didn’t get a lot of pitches to hit.”
The major-league record for walks in a nine-inning game is six, held by Jimmy Foxx (1938) and Walter Wilmot (1891).
Joyce was the 12th player to draw five walks in a nine-inning game without one being intentional since 1955, the year the intentional walk became an official stat.
Lose the hat
Maddon received a letter from MLB telling him not to wear the ski cap on the field after he wore one while making pitching changes during the series in Kansas City.
Maddon said he won’t fight this like he did when MLB told him he couldn’t wear his hoodie in the dugout, a rule that was later rescinded.
“I’m not as committed to the hat as I was to the hoodie,” Maddon said.
3B Evan Longoria now has eight go-ahead home runs in the ninth inning or later for his career. Only Detroit’s Cabrera (10) has hit more since 2008. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson will throw off a mound today for the first time since his elbow sugary. RHP Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) played catch Saturday for the second straight day. ... Balfour is the seventh Rays pitcher to allow a game-winning grand slam. ... Friday’s game was the first time the Rays scored more than four runs on the road this year. It was the first time in team history the Rays lost a game where they drew 11 walks.