PHILADELPHIA – Jurickson Profar lost his cool just before the San Diego Padres lost the game.
With a runner on first and no outs in the ninth inning and the Padres trailing by two runs in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series, Profar thought he checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch from Phillies reliever Seranthony Domínguez.
But as Profar tossed his bat toward the San Diego dugout and headed toward first, he was ruled to have swung by third-base umpire Todd Tichenor.
Profar slammed his helmet, yelled an expletive at Tichenor and then kicked his helmet before being ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett.
Instead of a walk that would have put runners on first and second with no outs, it was an important first out for Domínguez, who retired the next two batters to complete a 4-2 win that gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup.
“It should’ve been a walk,” Profar said.
Profar said he was trying to get out of the way of Domínguez’s back-foot slider and held his swing.
“I didn’t have a really good chance to see (the replay), but I’m pretty sure I didn’t go,” he said. “Maybe the bat was in front, but I was just getting out of the way and I didn’t go. I didn’t swing.”
Padres manager Bob Melvin didn’t dispute the umpire’s decision – but didn’t necessarily agree, either.
“Blocked out a little bit,” Melvin said of his view. “Originally, it looked like it might have gone. Go back and look at it, maybe the bat didn’t get out there. It’s a close call, tough one. But maybe not."
“It’s a big moment, obviously,” he said.
As for his reaction, Profar doesn’t regret it -– though he did admit he would react differently in a similar situation going forward.
“We play a game and we play with emotion,” he said. “We don’t play soft. We play to win. I play with emotion.”
Would he do it again?
“No probably not,” he said. “But in that moment, I did it. But I learn from it.”
Asked whether a suspension from Major League Baseball might be forthcoming, he said, “No chance. MLB doesn’t suspend people for that.”
Last year, a hotly disputed check swing ended the deciding Game 5 of the highly anticipated NL Division Series showdown between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
With two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants’ Wilmer Flores was ruled to have swung at a pitch from Max Scherzer. Some angry fans at Oracle Park threw trash onto the outfield grass.
After the game, first-base umpire Gabe Morales, who made the call on an appeal from the plate ump, seemed to waver on whether he got it right.
Check swings have long been a much-debated part of baseball.
For a pitch to be a strike, does the hitter have to “break his wrists” trying to hold up? Is it when the bat goes in front of the plate? Is it based on the batter’s intent?
No need to check it out in the Official Baseball Rules: In the almost 200 pages that govern Major League Baseball, there’s no mention of how to call it.
It’s purely an umpire’s judgment -- and judgment calls are not reviewable under MLB’s replay rules.
Padres star slugger Juan Soto went 1 for 3, raising his postseason average this year to .231, but has gone 13 consecutive games dating to the regular season without a home run.
Soto has struggled in right field in this series, too. He made a throwing error and lost a ball in the sun in San Diego’s 8-5 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday.
On Friday, he couldn’t keep Bryson Stott’s second-inning hit from getting past him and it reached the wall for a double. The Padres got out of that frame without giving up a run, but they weren’t as lucky in the sixth when Soto couldn’t snare Alec Bohm’s sinking liner with a diving attempt that resulted in an RBI double that gave Philadelphia a two-run cushion.
The 23-year-old Soto, whom San Diego acquired from Washington in a blockbuster deal on Aug. 2, clubbed five homers and had 14 RBIs in 17 postseason games in 2019 to help the Nationals win the World Series.
Soto has two doubles and four RBIs this postseason, and last went deep on Oct. 1 against the White Sox.
Soto has seen his power dip since the Padres traded away six prized prospects to get him. In 52 regular-season games since the trade, Soto hit six homers with 16 RBIs while batting .236 and slugging .390.
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