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Buck Showalter Explains Why He Asked Umpires to Check Joe Musgrove’s Ear

Behind a standout effort from All-Star pitcher Joe Musgrove, the Padres defeated the Mets on Sunday night to win 6–0 in a do-or-die Game 3 in their National League wild-card series.

But, on a night where Musgrove’s dominance should’ve been the main story, the prevailing storyline at night’s end centered on Mets manager Buck Showalter asking for a foreign substances check of the right-hander in the bottom of the sixth inning. Umpires checked behind Musgrove’s ears, which appeared to be shiny, for a sticky substance but ultimately found nothing after a brief search.

After the game, Showalter was asked to explain what he saw that led to him asking for an inspection, first praising Musgrove before telling reporters he acted in response to conversations in the Mets dugout.

“Obviously, I love him as a pitcher, always have, and that’s the only thing I feel kind of bad about. But it won’t cast anything,” Showalter said. “He’s too good a pitcher, they’re too good a—without getting into a lot of things, the spin rate, different things that I’m sure you’re all aware of. When you see something that jumps out at you. I get a lot of information in the dugout. We certainly weren’t having much luck the way it was going, that’s for sure.”

Showalter went on to say that he made the call for the sake of finding a way to help his team, saying he felt it “was best for us right now.”

“I’m charged with doing what’s best for the New York Mets, and if it makes—however it might make me look, or whatever, I’m gonna do that every time and live with the consequences,” he said. “I’m not here to not hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m gonna do whatever’s best for our players and the New York Mets. I felt like that was best for us right now. Pretty obvious reasons why it was necessary.”

Showalter’s controversial request led to a wave of negative response on social media, due largely to the fact that the stoppage came in the midst of Musgrove’s big day. Many felt the call was made as an attempt to disrupt the 29-year-old’s rhythm in the name of gamesmanship, prompting pundits and fans to criticize Showalter’s tactics.

Nevertheless, Musgrove stayed in the game and went on to put the finishing touches on his stellar performance. Musgrove allowed just one hit and struck out five batters to help San Diego to a 4–0 lead prior to the stoppage, and managed to maintain that stat line through seven innings to become the first pitcher in playoff history to allow one hit or fewer while pitching seven or more innings in a winner-take-all game.

With Sunday’s game now behind them, the Padres will move on to the NLDS for an anticipated series against the NL West champion Dodgers.

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