It didn’t take long for Major League Baseball’s crackdown on pitchers using illegal substances to go from orderly to exasperating. At least in the eyes of Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
After enduring a starting pitcher’s two mandatory between-innings checks of his hat, glove and belt, the three-time Cy Young award winner reacted angrily when the umpiring crew stopped play in the middle of the fourth inning.
With the Nationals leading 3-1, Scherzer threw a ball up and in to Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, who had to twist out of the way to avoid getting hit. Scherzer ended up getting a strikeout, but umpires apparently felt they needed to check him one more time.
Scherzer angrily dropped his glove and hat — and almost looked ready to take off his belt and pants — before umpires declared everything was fine and play could continue.
“These are (MLB Commissioner Rob) Manfred rules,” a still-hot Scherzer said after the game. “Go ask him what he wants to do with this. I’ve said enough. Go ask Alec Bohm how he feels about 95 (mph) at his face. I don’t need to say any more about this.”
Under MLB’s new rules, managers can request that umpires check an opposing pitcher, but only if there is reason to suspect he is using something illegal.
“I’ve seen Max a long time, since 2010,” Girardi said after the game. “But I’ve never seen him wipe his head like he did tonight, going like this.
“It was suspicious for me. It was suspicious.”
Already one of the game’s most animated players, the delay only seemed to fire Scherzer up even more.
After he finished off the fifth inning with his eighth strikeout of the game, Scherzer walked off the field glaring at the Phillies’ dugout and manager Joe Girardi. Before the start of the sixth, Girardi came out of the dugout and appeared to yell something in Scherzer’s direction.
Girardi was then ejected by home plate umpire Tim Timmons. Scherzer was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth. The Nationals went on to win 3-2 as Scherzer picked up his sixth win of the season.
Not to be outdone, Oakland A’s pitcher Sergio Romo took Scherzer’s antics one step further a little later in the evening by actually removing his belt and undoing his pants so the umpire could check him.
And to think, this is only the first week of the new enforcement procedures. The wackiness may just be getting started.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Max Scherzer gets angry over repeated examinations by umpires