A game featuring starting pitchers Zack Wheeler and Max Scherzer should receive a lot of attention from fans. While this game certainly will garner a decent amount of attention from the sports world, it won’t be because of how well the pitchers threw the ball. Instead, the focus will be on MLB’s new policy of foreign substance inspection, and how players and teams reacted to it. Those shenanigans overshadowed a game in which the Phillies managed just two solo home runs on offense, and Wheeler only lasted three innings, resulting in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals.
Maybe there are people who like the new foreign substance enforcement, but I know two people who most definitely do not: John Kruk and Max Scherzer. Kruk spent about two thirds of the television broadcast railing about it, and he was delving into some serious “Get off my lawn” territory.
As for Scherzer, he behaved like a child from the beginning regarding the inspections. He definitely didn’t appreciate when Joe Girardi asked for the umpires to check him in the middle of the inning, and began to threaten to pull down his pants on the field.
Max Scherzer has once again been checked for sticky substance, this time during an inning.— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 23, 2021
(via @BarnHasSpoken) pic.twitter.com/89dcFj8IcY
After his night was complete, he mouthed off to Girardi, prompting Girardi to emerge from the dugout, prompting the umpires to remove him from the game. Whatever the people at Major League Baseball were trying to accomplish, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t it.
Was this just gamesmanship by Girardi, or is Scherzer’s use of foreign substances one of those openly known secrets throughout baseball?
Since we did the spin-rate chart for Zack Wheeler earlier, here’s the same chart on Max Scherzer tonight.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 23, 2021
Spin rates down on every pitch through 4 IP. But there’s a lot of that going on this week. pic.twitter.com/cKWsNkJXF7
Aided by foreign substances or not, Scherzer did an effective job of shutting down the Phillies’ offense, with Bryce Harper’s solo home run the only damage he allowed in six innings.
This overshadowed the shortest start of Zack Wheeler’s Phillies career. He had command issues from the start, and despite his pitch count being at a relatively low 73, his night was over after giving up three runs in three innings.
Fortunately, the Phillies’ bullpen was able to hold the Nationals scoreless the rest of the way, giving the Phillies a chance to fight back. Rhys Hoskins got them one run closer with a home run to left, setting up the climactic ninth inning.
Alec Bohm led off with a double, and thanks to a hit batsman, and an infield single, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out. Odubel Herrera’s pop up to left caused two Nationals to collide, but unfortunately, the player who caught the ball wasn’t the one who wound up in a heap on the ground. The rally then concluded in an unsatisfactory manner when Rhys Hoskins grounded out to shortstop.
The teams will be back at it on Wednesday afternoon. Will the hard feelings from Tuesday night carry over? Will the Nationals retaliate for Girardi’s challenge by making several calls for Phillies pitchers to be inspected? Considering Vince Velasquez is scheduled to start, and his games tend to last a long time even under the best of circumstances, I certainly hope not.
I’m excited for tomorrow’s Vince Velasquez start when Joe Girardi becomes the first manager to request his own pitcher be checked for foreign substances— Smarty Jones Esq. (@TheSmartyJones) June 23, 2021