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Out of the box: Umpires eject Nationals GM Rizzo from luxury suite

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Now this was an out-of-the-box ejection.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was tossed for yelling at umpires from a luxury suite in Atlanta on Sunday, with longtime crew chief Joe West saying, “enough is enough.”

“I wouldn’t take that from a player. I wouldn’t take that from a manager,” West told The Associated Press. “If it was Donald Trump, I’d eject him, too. But I’d still vote for him.”

The 67-year-old West, on track to set the record for most games umpired in big league history next year, said the crew told the commissioner’s office Friday that Rizzo was hollering at umpires earlier in the Nationals-Braves series.

“We informed the office that if it continued we’d stop it,” West said. “And we did.”

This latest incident occurred with the last-place Nationals batting in the seventh inning, trailing NL East-leading Atlanta by six runs in a game the defending World Series champions eventually lost 10-3.

After Chris Martin threw a pitch to Eric Thames with two outs, umpire Hunter Wendelstedt stepped away from the plate, turned to face the stands and yelled “You’re out” while cocking his thumb.

Rizzo was standing outside the box, high above the plate at Truist Park, without a mask and was barking toward the field.

“He was saying, `you’re brutal’ and other things,” West said. “We’re in a pandemic situation, you can hear everything.”

With no crowd in the ballpark because of the coronavirus, someone on the field could be heard saying, “call security.” West then walked to the Braves dugout to use a telephone.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said he heard someone shouting before Wendlestedt reacted.

“I think I heard someone yelling a couple days ago, too,” Freeman said, adding, “There’s no fans in the stands so we’ve got to keep the yelling to ourselves.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez said “somebody screamed” but said he didn’t provide more details.

“I talked to Hunter briefly,” Martinez said. “He said we want to see what we can do about getting a certain guy out.”

Major League Baseball said it had started an inquiry.

“We have already been in communication with the Nationals regarding what transpired during today’s game, and we will speak with the umpiring crew today,” MLB said in a statement. “We will expect Joe West’s crew to provide a full account of their perspective, and we will follow up with them accordingly.”

The ejection came a day after the Nationals announced a multiyear contract extension for the 59-year-old Rizzo, who also is the team’s president of baseball operations.

Washington has struggled this season and is 14-25. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg recently was ejected for shouting at umpires from the stands while the Nationals played the Mets in New York.

Rizzo has gotten steamed at umpires in the past, most notably at Citi Field in 2016 after a loss to the Mets. Rizzo and ump Jim Joyce had to be separated as they argued in a hallway where the locker rooms for the teams and umpires are located.

Rays beat Mets 8-5, clinch 1st AL East title in 10 years

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NEW YORK (AP) Confetti instead of champagne. Silly string instead of beer.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long accustomed to doing more with less, figured out a way to maximize the division-clinching celebration they were allowed to enjoy during a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus.

Randy Arozarena homered twice and the Rays clinched their first AL East title in 10 years Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets.

“I’m completely dry right now, which I’m not a huge fan of,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Rays player, said with a grin. “But you have to adapt to what we’re asked of.”

With teams instructed to celebrate in a muted and socially distant style, the Rays went old school – or maybe elementary school – with their clinching party.

The team filed slowly onto the field after Nick Anderson fanned Andres Gimenez for the final out. A couple of players shot off canisters filled with confetti that eventually dotted the grass and dirt at Citi Field. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged before the Rays doused one another with silly string and lit some cigars in the visiting clubhouse.

Later, hooting and hollering could be heard from the visitors’ dugout.

“We’re little kids trapped in grown men’s bodies,” Kiermaier said.

Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe also went deep for the Rays to back Tyler Glasnow‘s six solid innings. Tampa Bay will be home at quirky Tropicana Field for a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning next Tuesday.

It is the third division crown for the thrifty Rays, whose payroll this season is just over $28 million – more than only the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay, which began play in 1998, also won the AL East, home of two big-spending powers in the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2008 and 2010.

“It feels great to win the division, no matter what division you’re in,” Kiermaier said. “But especially the American League East – it’s just a different animal.”

After missing a chance to clinch Tuesday, the Rays went into Wednesday again needing just a win or a Yankees loss against Toronto to lock up the division championship.

The Rays (37-20) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth on Arozarena’s two-run homer off Michael Wacha and pulled away, taking care of business themselves while New York was routed 14-1 by the Blue Jays.

“At the end of the day, a clinch is a clinch,” said Wendle, who homered in the second. “But to do it on a win – everybody’s kind of riding the high of winning the game along with the division. We didn’t want to see it come down to them losing a game.”

Tampa Bay also is closing in on wrapping up the top record in the AL and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Lowe, who had an RBI fielder’s choice in the third, hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Willy Adames added an RBI single later in the inning and Arozarena homered again in the ninth.

The insurance came in handy for the Rays when the Mets scored three times off Oliver Drake in the ninth – via an RBI groundout by Robinson Cano and a two-run homer by Todd Frazier – before Anderson closed the door.

“I think we had the game pretty much in control (and) certainly recognized what was going on in Buffalo, but I don’t know if you can ever prepare for a moment like that – it’s pretty special,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Glasnow (5-1) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

Gimenez and Dominic Smith homered off Glasnow in the final home game of the season for the Mets, whose long-shot playoff hopes were further damaged with the loss. New York began the day 2 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot.

“We still have a shot with the four games left and we’re competing,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’ve just got to do what we do – just keep fighting like we did in the ninth.”

Wacha allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four in six innings.

STABLE SHIRT

Rays pitcher Charlie Morton sported a T-shirt picturing a stable of horses as he spoke with reporters during a pregame Zoom call. Morton did little to discourage the notion the shirt was inspired by Cash’s viral rant earlier this month, when he declared the Rays have “a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph” after Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman threw near Mike Brousseau’s head in the ninth inning Sept. 4.

“The stable shirt?” Morton said. “It was in my locker last week and I like horses.”

With a grin obviously growing even behind his Rays mask, Morton said he rode horses as a kid.

“So I was ecstatic to see this shirt in my locker and I wore it,” he said.

As for the fireballers on the Rays’ pitching staff?

“We’ve got some guys that throw really hard,” Morton said.

ANOTHER LOSING SEASON

The loss guaranteed the Mets (25-31) will finish with a sub-.500 record for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons – a total matched or exceeded only by the Chicago White Sox (nine), Miami Marlins (10) and San Diego Padres (10). The White Sox and Padres have already clinched playoff spots and a winning record, while the Marlins are in second place in the NL East.

New York made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 and went 86-76 last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Jose Alvarado (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to throw batting practice to 3B Yandy Diaz (hamstring) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) at Tropicana Field on Thursday. Cash said all three players are progressing and he hopes they are available for the playoffs. . Brousseau (oblique) missed a fourth consecutive game. Cash said he would have been available off the bench if needed

Mets: RF Michael Conforto (hamstring) returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after missing two games and went 0 for 4. . The Mets activated RHP Dellin Betances (lat), who last pitched Aug. 29, and optioned RHP Corey Oswalt to the alternate site.

UP NEXT

Rays: After a day off Thursday, Morton (2-2, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to get his postseason tuneup in the opener of a series against the Phillies on Friday.

Mets: Rookie LHP David Peterson (5-2, 3.80 ERA) opens a four-game road series against the Nationals. Peterson struck out a career-high 10 against the Braves last Saturday.