Behind a stellar effort from All-Star shortstop Joe Musgrove, the Padres defeated the Mets on Sunday night for a 6-0 win in a do-or-die Game 3 in their National League wild-card series.
But on a night where Musgrove’s dominance should have been the main story, the prevailing story at the end of the night centered on Mets manager Buck Showalter requesting a substance test from the right-hander in the bottom of the sixth inning. Referees 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 him to call 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 bad about. But he’s not going to give anything away,” Showalter said. “He’s a very good pitcher, they’re very good—without getting into a lot of things, the spin rate, different things that I’m sure you all know. When you see something that jumps out at you. I get a lot of information in the dugout. We were definitely not very lucky with the way it was going, that’s for sure.”
Showalter went on to say he made the call to find a way to help his team, saying he felt it “was the best thing for us at this time.”
“I’m bound to do what’s best for the New York Mets, and if it does — no matter how it makes me look, or whatever, I’ll do it every time and live with the consequences,” he said. “I’m not here to not hurt anyone’s feelings. I will do what is best for our players and the New York Mets. I felt this was the best for us at this time. Pretty obvious reasons why it was necessary.”
Showalter’s controversial request led to a wave of backlash on social media, largely due to the fact that the interruption came in the midst of Musgrove’s big day. Many saw the call as an attempt to disrupt the 29-year-old’s rhythm in the name of playmaking, prompting pundits and fans to criticize Showalter’s tactics.
Nevertheless, Musgrove stayed in the game and put the finishing touches on his stellar performance. Musgrove allowed just one hit and struck out five to help San Diego take a 4-0 lead before the break, and went on to hold that stat line through seven innings to become the first pitcher in playoff history to allow one or fewer hits while throwing seven or more participants in a winner-takes-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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