The Chicago Cubs finished Saturday's game against the Washington Nationals under protest following repeated complaints to the umpires regarding Nationals closer Sean Doolittle's delivery, according to Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon twice delayed the game after Doolittle entered in the ninth inning, apparently angered by the closer tapping his toe on the mound during his delivery. The umpires gathered and discussed the situation following Maddon's first complaint but did not rule Doolittle's delivery illegal.
After Maddon emerged from the dugout a second time, the umpires went to video review, presumably to examine Doolittle's delivery. The pitcher received no punishment, and the Cubs immediately protested the game. The protest took effect with one out in the top of the ninth inning.
Doolittle remained nonplussed by the Cubs' protest and needed just seven pitches to save Washington's 5-2 win. He had some particularly harsh words for Maddon afterward.
"It was a thinly viewed attempt to throw me off my game," he told reporters, including Ghiroli.
"In that moment, he's not doing anything other than rattle me. It was kinda tired," the left-hander added, according to Jamal Collier of MLB.com. "Sometimes he (Maddon) has to remind people how smart he is."
Doolittle went on to thank Maddon for protesting, saying he pitched better after the delay, according to MASN's Byron Kerr.
Maddon, for his part, said he protested the toe tap because Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. was told his toe-tap delivery was illegal during spring training.
"I went up to (home plate umpire Sam Holbrook) and I told him that (we were told it was illegal), and he said (the call's) in our judgment," Maddon said, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "I said there's no judgment. If he taps the ground it's an illegal pitch, period. There's nothing to judge.
"It's (MLB's) rule, not mine. I didn't ask for it in the first place. "
Holbrook said the umpires did not review Doolittle's delivery, according to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. Rather, they donned the headsets as procedure following Maddon's protest.
"He (Maddon) thought (Doolittle) was tapping his foot, which in itself is not illegal," Holbrook said. "And this all kind of stems from his pitcher being called on something that was a little bit different than what Doolittle was doing.
"So in our judgment, Doolittle did nothing illegal at all."
The Nationals and Cubs conclude their series at Nationals Park on Sunday night.