SEATTLE (AP) -Carl Crawford began serving a two-game suspension Thursday night after his appeal was denied by the commissioner's office.
Tampa Bay's All-Star left fielder sat out the opener of a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners, who entered play six games behind the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card standings.
Crawford's penalty stemmed from a heated argument with first-base umpire Paul Nauert in a Sept. 3 game against Baltimore. Crawford was called out on a bases-loaded grounder. Replays indicated first baseman Kevin Millar's foot was off the bag and Crawford was safe. He slammed his helmet to the ground and was so upset that first base coach George Hendrick had to restrain him.
Crawford's fine was reduced on appeal, but the length of the suspension was upheld.
``I'm not surprised. I probably deserved it,'' Crawford said. ``So I can't say too much about it. Usually when you appeal you get a day knocked off.''
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon thought the penalty was ``excessive.'' He also felt it would have made more sense to have Crawford serve the suspension at the end of the season when Tampa Bay plays Toronto, because Seattle is still contending for a playoff spot.
``For me, for the integrity of the race, I was surprised that they didn't wait until the end of the season,'' Maddon said.
Crawford is hitting .311 with 11 home runs, 78 RBIs and an AL-best 49 stolen bases. He has hit safely in 37 of his last 42 games and carries a .334 average on the road, sixth-best in the league. He is batting .349 since the All-Star break.

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