What’s postseason baseball without a little gamesmanship?
San Diego Padres starter Joe Musgrove brought a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the New York Mets, as he was clearly in a groove in this win-or-go-home wild card game at Citi Field on Sunday.
But there was talk all over social media about how shiny Musgrove’s ear was, and he kept touching it in between pitches as well.
So, Mets manager Buck Showalter decided to call on umpires to check Musgrove’s ear for a sticky substance that could have been affecting his pitches.
After a thorough check, umpires found nothing wrong, but the Padres made sure to chat over at the Mets’ dugout during this tense situation. Manny Machado was consistently talking to the Mets while the check was going on, and Musgrove even motioned to them after collecting an out.
METS STAVE OFF ELIMINATION WITH FOUR-RUN SEVENTH, DO-OR-DIE GAME 3 SET
Once he got out of that sixth inning, he yelled something over to the bench before walking off.
After the game, Musgrove admitted that Showalter’s move gave him some extra spirit.
“It motivated me a little bit,” he told ESPN. “It fired me up.”
On the outside, it looked like Showalter was just pulling an old manager’s trick to try and knock Musgrove off his rhythm. However, there actually might have been some reasoning behind this move.
YANKEES LEAVE AROLDIS CHAPMAN OFF ALDS ROSTER AFTER SKIPPING WORKOUT: ‘STAND DOWN AND JUST STAY HOME’
Musgrove’s spin rates on his pitches were drastically different compared to his season averages, according to Baseball Savant.
For example, he is averaging 2667 rpm on his fastball compared to 2559 for the year. And that’s shown on the radar gun as he’s averaging 94 mph on his heater compared to 92.9 for the year.
His cutter, slider, curveball and changeup are all seeing rpm spikes over 100 during this start. Now, adrenaline has a weird way of adding some extra intensity for pitchers, especially in situations like this. And again, the umpires found nothing, so Musgrove is in the clear.
But Showalter said after the game that the Mets were “privy to” the accelerated spin rates in the dugout, which prompted the move.
“Some pretty obvious reasons why it was necessary,” he told reporters.
The Padres defeated the Mets, 6-0, behind the start by Musgrove, who became the first ever pitcher to go seven or more innings and let up one hit or less in a winner-takes-all game. He struck out five over his seven innings, where he threw just 86 pitches.
San Diego moves on to face their NL West rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat them 14-5 in their regular season series this year.