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Maddon not happy to hear Howell booed Monday, defends pitcher ... again

Posted Oct 4, 2011 by Roger Mooney

Updated Oct 4, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Manager Joe Maddon was not pleased with the fans at Monday’s game who booed J.P. Howell as the reliever was removed from the game after allowing a two-run single to Josh Hamilton for what turned out to be the winning run in the Rangers 4-3 victory.

The loss pushed the Rays to the brink of elimination in this best-of-five series.

“It’s really wrong. I don’t understand why the folks would have gone there on him (Monday),” Maddon said. “It’s inappropriate. Here’s a guy who was a big part of our World Series run, is coming off a severe injury and has done some really good work this year, particularly against left-handers. He’s given up a couple of homers. That’s why the numbers are so high. He’s not been as bad as it seems. But that was the right moment for him (Monday), that was the right situation, him versus Hamilton. I felt good about it.”

Howell has struggled down the stretch of the regular season. He allowed a two-run homer to Matt Wieters in Baltimore and a two-run double to Robinson Cano in a game at Yankee Stadium. Both hits came in the eighth inning. Both drove in two runs. Both were the difference in a Rays two-run loss.

Yet, Maddon has stayed with Howell, much to the angst of the fan base.

“That’s just a ball that finds a whole right there,” Maddon said. “It’s unfortunate because a big reason why we chose him for this team was for that particulate moment right there against Hamilton. We liked that matchup and also his work against left-handers in general this year, so it’s unfortunate. I have a lot of faith in this guy, I always have. He’s been a big part of our past. I hope he’s going to be a big part of our future, too. I didn’t see it as a big reach, quite frankly. I felt pretty good about it.”

Maddon said there was more to the Rays 4-3 loss than Hamilton’s hit against Howell.

“Listen, it’s a base hit (Monday),” Maddon said. “It’s not about even that. It’s about a couple of walks before that, a couple of stolen bases before that. It’s about us having chances to score runs and that moment goes away. It’s not just about J.P. but any means.”

Knowing how down Howell was after the game, Maddon said he went looking for him but didn’t catch to Howell before Howell left the clubhouse after talking to reporters. Maddon said he will talk to Howell before this afternoon’s game and added he won’t shy away from using him if the situation calls for a left-on-left matchup.

“I’ll talk to him to see where he’s at,” Maddon said. “It’s that time of the year we’re everybody’s going to have to help.”

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