Padres-Mets: Explaining Joe Musgrove’s bizarre ear check during postseason elimination game – CBS Sports

Padres-Mets: Explaining Joe Musgrove's bizarre ear check during postseason elimination game - CBS Sports

In the bottom of the sixth inning of the win-or-go-home Game 3 of the Wild Card Series, fathers starting pitcher Joe Musgrove was checked by the umpiring crew for a possible illegal substance. Mets manager Buck Showalter had a quick conference call to request the check with the umpires, who chatted together and then checked on Musgrove.

Musgrove has dealt with up to that point eventual 6-0 Padres victory. Through five innings of scoreless ball, he allowed just one hit and struck out four with no walks. Here’s a look at the check:

Per MLB rules: “Any pitcher who possesses or uses a foreign substance shall be subject to immediate ejection from the game and suspended automatically in accordance with the rules. If a player other than the pitcher is found to have applied a foreign substance to the ball, both the position player and pitcher shall be thrown out.”

After the check, the umpires cleared Musgrove of any foul play and he remained in the game. Musgrove then induced a groundout before striking out the next hitter and staring down the Mets’ dugout — likely Showalter — and then ended the inning by getting a deep flyout. Then it appeared that Musgrove had an exchange with the Mets dugout as he walked off the field.

Musgrove ended up throwing seven scoreless innings allowing just one hit. He is the first pitcher to throw at least seven innings and allow fewer than two hits in an elimination game in MLB history, by Sarah Langs. He said the Mets are asking for the control “lit a fire under his ass.”

Early in the game, fan conspiracies began circling social media regarding Musgrove’s ears looking red and shiny. Obviously there’s nothing illegal about having red and shiny ears, as ridiculous as it sounds to even utter such a phrase, and veteran big leaguer Andrew McCutchen weighed in:

Somewhat sparse chants of “cheat” could be heard in Citi Field after the check, which was odd timing considering the refs had already checked and cleared Musgrove, but it’s a high-intensity, elimination game.

Musgrove’s speed and spin rate — things that could increase dramatically with the use of certain foreign substances — were ever so slightly up on Sunday, but not to levels that would indicate something funky was going on. And, hey, it’s an elimination game. He’s probably on fire and throwing harder because of the adrenaline.

Here’s how Showalter explained why he wanted control after his team’s season-ending loss:

Musgrove won a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros — purveyors of the token theft scandal — and recently said he wants to win a “real” championship and he doesn’t “feel great” wearing that ring. Musgrove and the Padres move on to the NLDS to face the Dodgers.

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