Grant Balfour critical of Rays fans

Updated: May 23, 2014, 11:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Right back at you.

That was the message Rays closer Grant Balfour had for Tampa Bay fans after they booed the team for blowing a lead in the ninth inning of Thursday night's game against the Oakland Athletics.

[+] EnlargeGrant Balfour
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsRays closer Grant Balfour was critical of fans for booing after he gave up a game-tying double in the ninth. "Everybody's got to be pulling for the team," he said. "You can't be back and forth like that."

The Rays were leading 1-0 when Balfour gave up an RBI double to Yoenis Cespedes that tied the score. The Rays eventually won 5-2 in 11 innings.

Fans weren't too happy about the blown lead and let Balfour and the Rays know it.

"The fans can boo me and all that [stuff], but that's fine," Balfour told reporters after the game. "It's not going to help me out. It's not going to help the team do anything out there when you do that [stuff]. The feeling is, the team's behind you and everybody's behind you -- the crowd, the whole nine yards. Things are going to go right.

"But when you start pulling that [stuff], it's not a good vibe. The team's pulling for the team, so the fans got to be pulling for the team. Everybody's got to be pulling for the team. You can't be back and forth like that. That [stuff] doesn't work. So I'll just walk away positive from it. It's a good win. A much-needed win."

It was just the second blown save of the season for Balfour, who has eight saves but also has a 5.89 ERA and 18 walks -- most by an AL reliever.

"[Stuff] happens. I'm not going to sit here and cry about it," Balfour said. "I would have liked to have closed it out. It would have been easier to get a 1-2-3 [inning]."

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon talked with Balfour a day after the closer made the comments.

"I emphasized the point that it's important he says what he wants to say, and then I gave him my take on everything beyond that," Maddon said. "But in no way would I try to muzzle any of our guys."

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