ST. PETERSBURG -- In one fell swoop, Carl Crawford and Joe Maddon were ejected from Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to the Red Sox by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson.
Crawford had just taken a pitch for a strike from Boston's Jon Lester with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and Tampa Bay's left fielder appeared shocked when Davidson called the pitch strike one, and expressed as much to Davidson.
"He was like, 'That's a good pitch,'" Crawford said. "And I'm thinking to myself, 'If the plate is in the other batter's box, that's a good pitch.'"
A confrontation quickly ensued in which Crawford and Davidson went face to face with each other.
"It just went back and forth," Crawford said. "And he didn't want to back down. I definitely wasn't going to lose a trash-talking contest. It just went from there."
During their spirited exchange, Crawford's helmet appeared to touch Davidson's nose after Maddon arrived and attempted to step between the two. Maddon then got into a heated exchange with Davidson, at which point Davidson signaled that Crawford and Maddon had been ejected.
Crawford left the fray, but Maddon continued to argue with Davidson, with less than an inch separating their faces as they barked back and forth.
"Usually when they act like that, they know they're wrong," Crawford said. "It's just probably one of those things where he knew he was wrong and wanted to get it over with quick."
Crew chief Tim Tschida spoke on behalf of Davidson and first explained Crawford's ejection.
"Carl didn't like the strike call and made his point," Tschida said. "And they were hammering it back and forth, but Carl gradually started moving closer to the umpire. And Bob's line was, 'Now you're coming into my space here, back off.' And when he said, 'Back off,' [Crawford] actually moved closer. That's why Carl was ejected from the game."
Next, Tschida explained why Maddon received such a quick ejection.
"Joe's immediate response was, 'You're calling stuff off the plate on our guys,'" Tschida said. "And he's arguing balls and strikes. When a manager leaves his position in the dugout to argue a ball-strike decision, it's immediate.
"So again, it wasn't anything personal. It wasn't anything insulting. It's not uncommon when a manager gets there in a ball-strike situation for him to take up the argument. They know they're not supposed to. They know what the consequences are."
When asked for the crew's reaction to the claim by some of the Rays that the strike zone was wide, Tschida responded: "We don't have anything to look at right now. We're evaluated on that ZE system, so we'll find out soon enough."
Fox Trax, which identifies the location of pitches for the TV broadcast, showed the pitch that Crawford took almost a foot outside. Earlier in the inning, Gabe Kapler took a called third strike that also appeared way outside, and he, too, had words with Davidson, but he spoke while walking away from the plate.
If indeed Crawford's helmet touched Davidson, he will likely receive a suspension. Earlier in the season, Dioner Navarro served a two-game suspension for bumping home-plate umpire Dan Bellino during an April 23 contest against Toronto.
"I didn't try to [make contact with Davidson]," Crawford said. "I might have done it by accident. From looking at it, my helmet probably did hit him a little bit, but he came at me."
Crawford said he hoped he would not receive a suspension from the incident.
"If anybody should be getting suspended, it should be the umpire," Crawford said. "I don't feel like I did anything wrong but defend myself. He's the one who got all defensive real quick."
There also was some question as to whether Maddon made contact with Davidson.
"It was close, but he was definitely rubbing me also," Maddon said. "It's hard to distinguish who exactly encountered or created the first rub."
When asked if he thought there would be suspensions, Maddon smiled.
"I don't think so," he said. "I don't see why. There's nothing out of the ordinary, except a lot of screaming."
For Crawford, Tuesday night's ejection was the fourth of his career, and for Maddon, it was his 12th as manager of the Rays.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.