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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Will Smith denies Dodgers threw at Jurickson Profar amid perfect game threat: ‘He’s kind of irrelevant’

SportsWill Smith denies Dodgers threw at Jurickson Profar amid perfect game threat: 'He's kind of irrelevant'

After a rare, lengthy rain delay at Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the NL West rival San Diego Padres on Saturday night (LA 5, SD 2), evening the season series at 2-2. The Dodgers have outscored the Padres 28-27 in the four games, so they have been evenly matched in the early weeks of the new season.

Dodgers righty Gavin Stone retired the first 15 batters he faced Saturday night, and, in the fifth inning, the benches cleared after Jurickson Profar took exception to an inside fastball. He’d squared around to bunt on the previous pitch. As with most benches-clearing incidents, there were no punches throw in this one. Just some jawing and standing around.

To the action footage:

“For a moment, I thought it was because of (the bunt) and he’s throwing a perfect game. But he wouldn’t do that throwing a perfect game,” Profar said after the game (via MLB.com). “… It was just the heat of the moment. I wasn’t trying to get the team energized or anything like that. We don’t need that. We have a good team. We don’t need any of that.”

Dodgers catcher Will Smith, who exchanged words with Profar after the inside pitch, had a less diplomatic response: “I don’t know why we would have thrown at him … he’s kind of irrelevant,” Smith told Dodgers Radio.

For what it’s worth, Profar is outperforming Smith so far this season — .948 OPS and 0.4 WAR vs. .865 OPS and 0.1 WAR — but we wouldn’t expect that to continue through 162 games. Profar’s career hasn’t turned out as expected for the game’s former No. 1 prospect, no doubt, but also Profar’s Padres have won a postseason game more recently than Smith’s Dodgers. Irrelevance is in the eye of the beholder.

It doesn’t seem like Stone threw at Profar intentionally, though it must be said that bunting to break up a perfect game is 100% acceptable. Especially in this case. It was a one-run game between two division rivals. Not being allowed to bunt during a perfect game is one of baseball’s dumber unwritten rules. This is the big leagues. You play to win at this level.

Saturday’s win improved the Dodgers to 11-6 on the season. They have a three-game lead over the 8-9 Padres, who are percentage points ahead of the 7-8 Arizona Diamondbacks for second place.

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