ST. PETERSBURG -- The last thing the Rays' opponents want to see right now is Fernando Rodney enter the game in the ninth inning with Tampa Bay holding a lead.
The closer has been nothing short of spectacular this season, racking up 33 saves in 34 chances with a 0.70 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 52 innings.
Rodney has been even better recently though, holding opponents scoreless in his last 22 innings of work, a club record for a reliever with Tuesday's scoreless inning in the Rays' 4-1 win over the Blue Jays. Joe Borowski held the old mark (21 in 2005).
"What can you possibly say," Maddon said about Rodney, who gave up his first hit in four games on Tuesday. "Even the base hit he gave up there was a ground ball. ... When you put the ball on the ground, you're doing your job as a pitcher, and you just can't help sometimes where it's hit."
James Shields, who got the win on Tuesday, holds the Rays' record of consecutive scoreless innings at 23, which he set last season. Rodney may get a chance to tie or break the record against the Jays before the team starts a road trip on Friday. The closer has allowed just one earned run at Tropicana Field this season.
Tuesday's ninth inning was interrupted at one point by home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom, who had to get a new ball for Rodney. Maddon, who came out of the dugout to speak with Cederstrom, said after the game the interruption was caused by Rodney wiping sweat off his face and then wiping it on the ball instead of his uniform.
"I knew Ferando did not understand what [Cederstrom] was saying to him," Maddon said. "I asked him to go out and just explain to him exactly what he was seeing, so that Fernando would not be confused. With Carlos [Pena at first base serving as interpreter], I felt good that the message would be brought to Fernando, which it was."
Tampa Bay was involved in a controversy in June, when Joel Peralta was suspended six games for having excessive pine tar on his glove against the Nationals. Maddon, who didn't have a problem with ball being exchanged, said he believed it was Cederstrom himself who requested it and not Toronto's bench.