Pitcher Joe Musgrove was subjected to an ear probe by umpires during the San Diego Padres’ dominant 6-0 win against the New York Mets as they moved onto the National League Division Series.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Mets manager Buck Showalter asked the umps to pause the game and check Musgrove for possible use of sticky substances after noticing his ears were shiny.
But after checking the right-hander’s face, glove and hat, nothing suspicious was found.
“I think he was checking for some sort of substance that was helping me spin the ball. I’ve seen it before,” Musgrove later told reporters.
“At the point in the game when it happened, I was so dialed in already, all my pitches felt good,” he added. “I felt like I was executing, so I almost just let it kind of fire into me.”
Musgrove allowed only one hit in seven innings during Sunday’s game at Citi Field, striking out five. He became the first pitcher in major league history to throw seven shutout innings and allow one hit in a winner-takes-all postseason game.
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The Padres will next face the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game NLDS, starting on Tuesday.
Asked about the substance check, Mets manager Showalter said he “love[s]” Musgrove as a pitcher but “get[s] a lot of information in the dugout” and is “charged with doing what was best for the New York Mets.”
He added that “spin rates and different things” had prompted him to call for the check, after which Mets fans aimed chants of “cheater” at Musgrove.
Padres manager Bob Melvin, meanwhile, queried the decision to call for a probe.
“The problem I have is Joe Musgrove is a man of character,” he said. “Questioning his character – to me – that’s the part I have a problem with. I’m here to tell everybody that Joe Musgrove is as above board as any pitcher I know, any player I know.”