San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove came under fire during Game 3 of the team’s wild-card round against the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Mets manager Buck Showalter called for a substance check in the fifth inning with the team down four runs. Baseball fans on social media appeared to be befuddled by Musgrove’s “shiny” ear during the game and wondered if there was something on his body helping his pitching.
The umpires came out and checked him, even going inside his ear to see if he was hiding any secrets in his crevice. Officials found nothing.
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“I get it, dude. They’re on their last leg. They’re desperate,” Musgrove told ESPN after the game.
Musgrove went seven innings and allowed just one hit. He became the first pitcher in MLB history to go seven or more innings of one-hit ball or less in a winner-take-all game.
He was asked about the substance check after the game.
“I don’t have much to say about it. At the point of the game when it happened, I was so dialed in already. All my pitches felt good. Felt like I was executing, so it was almost just kinda lit a fire under me. They came out and told me Buck wanted to check my face, my glove, my hat. At that point I was so dialed in, so focused on getting outs, it didn’t really affect me so much.”
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Showalter told reporters he was doing what he thought was best for the team and made the decision to check for sticky substances based on the information he had in the dugout.
“I’m charged with doing what’s best for the New York Mets,” Showalter explained. “If it makes me look however it makes me look or whatever, I’m going to do it every time and live with the consequences. I’m not here to hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m going to do what’s best for our players and the New York Mets. I felt like that was best for us right now. There’s some pretty obvious reasons why it was necessary.”
Padres manager Bob Melvin backed Musgrove’s character.
“The problem I have is Joe Musgrove is a man of character and questioning his character, to me, that’s the part I have a problem with,” Melvin said. “I’m here to tell everybody that Joe Musgrove is above board as any pitcher I know, any player I know and unfortunately that happened to him. … The reception that he got after that was not warranted.”
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San Diego will move to the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.