San Diego Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove underwent a bizarre mid-game substance check from the umpires, per request from New York Mets manager Buck Showalter during Sunday’s series-deciding Game 3 contest at Citi Field.
Musgrove, who made 30 starts in his second campaign with the Padres this season, was cruising on the mound in the win-or-go-home matchup. The 29-year-old veteran was in the midst of a shutout display when, in the bottom of the sixth inning, before Musgrove had even thrown a pitch, the Mets dugout initiated a substance check request on the right-hander.
Crew chief Alfonso Marquez checked Musgrove’s hand and glove. Pretty usual stuff, nothing new.
However, Marquez didn’t stop there. The longtime big league umpire (since 1999) also checked Musgrove’s ears, seen on video of the live in-game broadcast, rubbing both ears in search of an illegal substance which resulted in no findings.
While Musgrove came clean, one former big leaguer was skeptical of the pitcher and agreed with Showalter’s call to the umpires.
“Here we go,” Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Andrew McCutchen tweeted. “I guarantee Musgrove has Red Hot on his ears. Pitchers use it as mechanism to stay locked in during games. It burns like crazy and IDK why some guys thinks it helps them but in no way is it “sticky.” Buck is smart tho. Could be trying to just throw him off.”
The Mets currently trail the Padres, 4-0 in the eighth inning, on the brink of elimination in front of their home crowd. Against Musgrove, the Mets have recorded just one base hit and one walk with five strikeouts.