Welcome to our recap of the ninth episode of Pitch, entitled “Scratched”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.
It’s the end of August, and these very well may be Mike Lawson’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) last days in San Diego. Mike has announced his desire to be traded to the Cubs, and the Padres are attempting to comply. (In earlier episode, someone mentions to Mike that he’s been placed on waivers. Presumably, he’s been claimed by Chicago or passed through waivers entirely.)
Mike gets a phone call from Cubs GM Ted (Mark Lawson), Pitch‘s version of Jed Hoyer. He’s evidently been given the blessing to get in touch with Mike, although I’m not sure I believe such a conversation takes place before a trade is complete. The purpose of fake Jed’s call is to let Mike — and, more so, the viewers — know just how much the Cubs want him.
Mike doesn’t want anyone to know he waived his no-trade clause just yet, but his teammates suspect he may be on his way out. The sports-talk world certainly seems to think he is. Colin Cowherd calls him an “infidel”!
Ginny’s (Kylie Bunbury) adventure of the week: she’s going to be in a video game. Whilst donning an inertial motion capture suit, she flirts with one of the employees working on the project, Noah (Tyler Hilton). Eliot (Tim Jo) informs Ginny that Noah isn’t just any video-game geek — he’s the company’s CEO (i.e. he’s loaded). Ginny initially turns down Noah’s request for a date, but later changes her mind, agreeing to join him for dinner.
That evening, Ginny and her brother Will (B.J. Britt) have dinner with the Sanderses. Evelyn (Meagan Holder) and Will are moving forward with their plans to franchise a series of sports bars. Blip (Mo McRae) and Ginny are both skeptical for their own reasons, but are supportive of their loved ones.
Come August 31st, Mike’s trade seems increasingly imminent. However, team president Charlie (Kevin Connolly) and GM Oscar (Mark Consuelos) are still hashing out the details when Mike drops in. He requests they keep things quiet until the trade has actually happened.
Speaking of keeping things quiet, Oscar and Natalie (Sarah Shahi) have not yet revealed their relationship to her father, Al (Dan Lauria). But Natalie has some news: she may be getting a permanent job at a hospital not in San Diego. Oscar doesn’t want to lose her, and asks her not to go.
While dressing for that day’s game, Ginny discovers that someone has nailed her cleats to her cubby. It’s still August, and thus too early for rookie hazing, which is limited to September (at least, it is in this Padres clubhouse). She suspects it must have been Mike, since he likely won’t be around next month.
Ginny decides to take one last stab at convincing Mike to stay. He reminds her that he’s running out of time to win a World Series ring. An overly optimistic Ginny tells him he has a shot at doing that with the Padres, if not this year then the next. Oddly enough, it doesn’t work on Mike.
Oscar meets with Al and Buck (Jack McGee) to discuss Livan “Basically Yasiel Puig Except He’s a Catcher” Duarte (Christian Ochoa). Al’s fed up with Livan’s rookie mistakes, like ill-advised snap throws to first and overaggressiveness at the plate. Al tells Oscar he fears that, if Mike is traded, Livan will regress, as he’ll no longer have to fight for his job. In addition to all that, Al’s figured out that Oscar is dating Natalie. So, yeah, there’s kind of a lot of tension between these two right now.
Amelia’s got some tensions of her own vis-à-vis Will’s business plan and Ginny’s role in it. Prior to the game, Amelia approaches Evelyn to express her concerns. Evelyn assures her with some annoyance that she’s got a handle on things. Now Amelia has awkwardness with Ginny, Will and Evelyn. She tries to settle things later by apologizing to Will and Evelyn for her skepticism and wishing them luck, but she clearly can’t shake the feeling that it’s a bad situation.
Oscar and Charlie are still negotiating the trade with the Cubs, unable to agree on how much of Mike’s contract the Padres are going to eat. Fake Jed also has another demand: Mike cannot appear in tonight’s game, to minimize injury risk before the deal is finalized.
Mike is upset when he finds out he’s been scratched from the lineup. He wants to help the Padres win while he’s still around.
He may just get his shot. Heading to the bottom of the ninth, the Padres are down 3-1 to the Dodgers. With two outs, Livan scores from first on a base hit, ignoring the third-base coach’s stop sign. It’s now a one-run game, and the Dodgers make a pitching change, bringing in a lefty.
Mike insists on pinch-hitting. Ginny advises him to put a helmet on, and directs a cameraman’s attention to him. The crowd goes wild. Al relents and sends Mike to the plate.
In what may be the show’s best baseball scene thus far — one that faithfully captures the scenario’s drama — Mike steps into the box for what could be his final at-bat in a Padres uniform.
With the entire ballpark on its feet, he whiffs on the first pitch for strike one.
The second pitch would be a great one to drive, and he does — but foul, for strike two.
The stands are still buzzing, hope alive that their idol can provide one last heroic act.
He looks at a curveball that catches the corner for strike three, and the game ends on an anticlimactic note.
“No joy in Mudville,” Will quips. “At least Casey swung the bat,” Eliot retorts.
The patrons remain eager for a curtain call, though, and Mike obliges.
But Mike’s mood is dour as ever, and he doesn’t feel much like talking to anyone after the game, although both Ginny and Blip try. They’re gone by the time Mike changes his mind about taking the team out for beers. The only person left is Livan, for whom Mike has some choice words about obeying his coaches and doing what’s best for the team, not what’s best for Livan.
While Al is with Natalie, Oscar comes to have a word with his manager about letting Mike bat. Even though Oscar is on Al’s side (despite Charlie being none too pleased), tensions flare back up between the two of them. Natalie breaks up the argument, picking this moment to break the news that she isn’t taking the job, but she’s not staying in San Diego, either. Instead, she’s volunteering for the International Medical Corps. She encourages Al and Oscar to get better at communicating with one another.
Ginny meets Billionaire Noah for their date. He’s rented out the entire place so that they won’t be bothered. Oh, the absurdly wealthy, they’re so wacky.
After they order, Ginny asks Noah for advice on investing in a restaurant. He tells her not to do it, and also not to get involved in such ventures with friends or family. That certainly doesn’t bode well for Will.
Something else doesn’t bode well for Will. Evelyn has found discrepancies in their numbers. While Will has excuses for all of them, Evelyn remains suspicious. She ends up calling Amelia for help.
Ginny and Noah are getting along splendidly when Mike texts her the name of a bar. Ginny excuses herself to join him. Guess money only gets you so far, Noah.
Mike and Ginny have one of their signature heart-to-hearts. They teasingly list all of the things they’ll miss about each other. They may be getting ahead of themselves, though, as Oscar and Charlie have yet to work out the details of the trade, coming down to the wire of the Cubs’ September 1st deadline. Oscar uses the money involved as an excuse for the delay, but really, he thinks keeping Mike around is what’s best for both the present and future of the Padres. He may have finally convinced Charlie of this, too.
Mike and Ginny say goodbye and, in a moment I’ve been dreading since the show began, come very close to kissing. The moment is interrupted by a phone call from Oscar with word that Mike’s not being traded.
It became clear in episode 8 that a Mike/Ginny romance would be explored in some capacity. It was the obvious thing to do, and that’s a large part of why I was hoping for… well, not that (though I have plenty of other reasons as well). I know I’m not alone in this, especially amongst people watching the show for baseball reasons. Readers, feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.
Next week’s episode is the season finale. With Pitch‘s propensity for drama and cliffhangers — and its many, many plot lines — I wonder how much actual closure we’ll get, even though we don’t know whether the show is getting a second season.
- Mike gets compared to some pretty big names in this episode: Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., and Derek Jeter — all iconic franchise players with Hall of Fame careers.
- Pitch has established that Charlie is a brilliant tech guy with absolutely no street smarts, but come on. Like he’d actually send a tweet (?!) saying “I have confidence in my front office to do the right thing.” Talk about unprofessional.
- Ginny breaks out a stat worthy of Elias: players who won World Series rings while playing at least 15 years with one franchise. She mentions Johnny Bench, George Brett, Frankie Crosetti and Roberto Clemente before Mike cuts her off, but it would’ve taken her a long time to list all of them, as literally dozens of players meet that criteria (48, if my research is accurate). Apparently it’s not as rare a feat as it sounds.
- The Pitch universe 2016 Cubs sound a lot like the actual 2016 Cubs, with their “young guns” and “brainiac manager.” The main difference seems to be the fictional version’s need for a catcher.
- This was the first episode of Pitch that didn’t make use of flashbacks, and they probably weren’t necessary. It’s hard to imagine flashbacks enhancing this episode’s plot lines. Assuming Pitch gets more than just one last episode, it’d be nice if the show weren’t so tethered to that device going forward.