The animosity drawn from Tuesdays pine tar incident between the Nationals and Rays carried over prominently in each teams managers pregame comments, but through Wednesdays 3-2 Washington win there was little substance to what looked like signs of a continued feud.
No, Joe Maddon didnt have the umpires check Stephen Strasburgs ball before the first pitch. No, Maddon and Joel Peralta didnt try to rile up Nats fans when he ran out prematurely from the dugout. And, no Maddon didnt mouth I want to tick these guys off, when he sent Peralta to the mound.
In fact, the rift between Maddon and Davey Johnson seems to have been squashed sometime between their pregame comments and the first pitch of the game.
After being called a weird wuss by Johnson, eyes were opened at 7:05 p.m. as umpire Jeff Nelson trotted to the mound to inspect the ball Strasburg was about to commence the game with.
I thought he was going to check my glove, but he didnt ask for that. He just wanted the baseball because I threw it in the dirt and I think Flores short-hopped to second or something like that, Strasburg said.
Johnson told the same story afterwards, that catcher Jesus Flores bounced it to the bag on a routine warm-up throw to second and the umpires were just being cautious.
We kind of had a laugh on the bench. When the umpire came out he wanted to look at the ball and he came out to look at it instead of asking for the ball because it bounced on the throw to second, he said.
Stras was getting ready to undress. He took his glove off, he had everything, and the ump said 'No, I just want the ball.' I mean, Zim came in and everybody was making fun, he's ready to take everything off and let them search him.
Things got interesting again at the end of the seventh inning as Peralta was warming in the bullpen with Nats lefty Sean Burnett on the mound. Burnett induced an inning-ending double play by Hideki Matsui that Maddon hadnt anticipated. He thought Peralta would have more time warming before the inning was over. Peralta ran out of the bullpen five or six strides before turning around and going back in.
Thats my fault because Matsui grounded into the double play so fast we could not do all the things that we wanted to do. So, get him back and let Burke Badenhop pitch to the first guy and then make the switch after that, he said.
Maddon basically balked in making the switch as he wanted Badenhop to remain in the game because their ninth hitter was due up in the next frame.
Peralta did end up making it in the game as Maddon summoned the right-hander as part of a double switch after the first batter of the eighth was retired. Several Tampa reporters thought they read Maddons lips on their local broadcast saying basically he was trying to irk the Nats by bringing him in the game.
Maddon didnt exactly deny saying it, but didnt offer up any confirmation either.
I say that a lot. I dont remember that honestly. I would absolutely admit to it, but I dont remember saying that, he said. Peralta was jacked up enough, he didnt need me to say anything to him.
When Peralta took the mound he did hear it from the Nationals crowd, they booed loudly as he approached the mound and scattered taunts throughout his appearance. But all in all, the fireworks of Johnson vs. Maddon was kept between them and set aside when the game started.
Even the players said they thought something was going to happen, it just never did.
You kind of expected something to happen especially after yesterday, but nothing really went down, Strasburg said.
There is one more chance of course as the Nationals host the Rays for the third game of the series on Thursday at Nats Park. Whether the feud is re-ignited or not, this sure has been a unique year for the Nationals both on and off the field.