Padres' Joe Musgrove has ears checked by umps for foreign substance


San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove couldn't believe his ears. 

While in the middle of tossing a shutout and protecting a four-run lead during the deciding Game 3 of the National League Wild Card Series, umpires stopped the game to check his noticeably shiny ears after a substance check was requested by New York Mets manager Buck Showalter.

After first inspecting Musgrove's glove and hands, one umpire proceeded to rub each of the pitcher's ears to check for a foreign substance. Musgrove was deemed to have passed and the game continued. 

Musgrove went on to retire the Mets in order in the sixth, gesturing towards the New York dugout after striking out Tomas Nido for the second out of the inning. 

Baseball began to strictly monitor pitchers for the use of "sticky stuff" that aided with gripping the ball and increasing spin rate. In addition to having their gloves, hats and belts checked by umpires, pitchers are also subject to random inspection of their fingers and hands...and ears, evidently.

The 29-year-old Musgrove, making the first postseason start of his career, opened the game with four perfect innings. He surrendered his first hit in the fifth, a leadoff single to Pete Alonso, but allowed no further damage. The right-hander, who had struck out four and walked none at the time of the substance check, had been pitching with an increased spin rate throughout the game.

That, combined with the fact that the Mets had been held to one baserunner with their season on the line, apparently was enough to make Showalter believe Musgrove was up to his ears in a foreign substance. 

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