Following Tuesday’s contentious matchup between the Nationals and Phillies, a 3-2 win for the Nats, Joe Girardi gave an explanation for why he requested a third inspection of Nats ace Max Scherzer for foreign substances.
Scherzer, who had already been checked twice in the game under MLB’s new policy to crack down on sticky stuff, rubbed his hair more times than Girardi said he was accustomed to seeing of Scherzer. So the Phillies skipper asked umpires to check Scherzer again, in the fourth inning, a request that clearly irked the pitcher.
“I’ve seen Max a long time, since 2010 -- obviously, he’s going to be a hall of famer -- but I’ve never seen him wipe his head like he was doing tonight, ever,” Girardi said. “It was suspicious for me. He did it about four or five times. It was suspicious. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I just got to do what’s right for our club.”
Scherzer, who got the win with eight strikeouts and just two hits and one earned run allowed in five innings, explained after the game that rubbing his hair was an attempt to get some moisture from sweat on his hands for a better grip.
“The whole night, I was sick of licking my fingers and tasting rosin the whole night. I couldn’t even get sweat from the back of my head because it wasn’t really a warm night," Scherzer said. "For me, the only part that was sweaty on me was actually my hair. So I had to take off my hat to be able to try to get any type of moisture on my hand to try to mix with the rosin.”
While Girardi may not have intended to offend anyone, Scherzer was taken aback by the situation, tossing his cap and glove on the ground and completely unbuckling his pants before umpires even reached the mound. Nationals manager Davey Martinez was also incensed and let the officials hear it.
After the check once again turned up no use of a substance, and Scherzer made it through the inning, he stared down Girardi as he walked back to the dugout. Girardi subsequently popped out of his own bench area, drawing an ejection from the game.
“I wasn’t challenging their club. There was some coaches that were screaming at me, coaches that I know, and it bothered me,” Girardi said. “I mean, I’m not playing games. I’m trying to win games here. I’m not playing games. I have respect for the other people over there, I have respect for what Max has done in his career. Again, I gotta do what’s right for our team.”
He said he understands why the Nats might’ve been upset but doesn’t have a problem if they're mad at him.
“I don’t have a problem if Davey’s mad at me. I don’t,” Girardi said. “I thought they were attacking me and that’s OK too. That’s all part of it. But again, we're here to win games and I'm here to do right by our team, and that's what I'm going to do."