The Dodgers had just earned the best record in the National League, so Yasiel Puig could be in a good mood after the game Saturday night.
The team wasn’t burned by his ejection in the third inning of a 1-0 win over the Padres. He joked with teammates as he dressed near his locker, slipping on a pair of Superman socks last.
Puig had been called out on strikes after two borderline calls in a row, the last of which was a pitch inside and near the knees.
At some point after the pitch, according to Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, Puig “threw the magical words out there, and that was it.”
In fact, Puig had stood in the batter’s box with his hands on his hips for 10 seconds. Home-plate umpire David Rackley began to walk away, but Puig said something that made him turn around. Puig gesticulated, spoke some more, and the umpire turned away for a second time.
Then Puig said something again, and that’s when Rackley ejected him.
Mattingly spoke with Rackley after the ejection, but the Dodgers manager said the ejection was justified. Rackley, he said, was trying to walk off.
“There’s certain things you just can’t do,” Mattingly said of Puig’s actions. “And that was one of those.”
Puig had been ejected just once before in his career — when he threw a punch during a bench-clearing brawl with the Diamondbacks last year. Mattingly said some of Puig’s teammates gave Puig a hard time in the clubhouse after the game, and he called Puig “a fast learner.”
Both strike calls were close. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said they both should have been called balls.
“It’s not like he just decided to get mad at the umpire for no reason,” Gonzalez said. “Those were balls, so he should’ve been 2-1. Instead he was strike three.”
The Dodgers (53-43) won the game thanks to a walk-off sacrifice fly by A.J. Ellis. That allowed Puig license to joke about the incident. Over the Superman socks, he tied on bleach white shoes with green and red stripes and stood near the door.
So what were the magic words?
“I told him that he was in a rush to get out,” Puig said in Spanish.
It was a joke, and he smiled and tapped his gold Rolex wristwatch and added: “The way I am right now.”
And he left the clubhouse.
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter: @zhelfand