On a gorgeous evening in Anaheim, California, the struggling San Diego Padres visited the struggling Los Angeles Angels.
The Padres were coming off the worst offensive performance of the year in a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A .090 team batting average was the worst this season. The Padres have had poor performance and injuries to starting pitchers all season, but such poor offensive output is not conducive to winning.
The Padres’ injuries, however, pale in comparison to the Angels.
The Halos have four of their five starting pitchers on the Injured List, and the team has lost six of their last ten games.
On Friday, they promoted Cooper Criswell to make his major league debut. The last time a pitcher made his first career start against the Padres, he threw a no-hitter.
The Padres hit Criswell early and often racking up six hits and three runs in just 1.1 innings of work. It was actually the bottom of the order doing early damage. Trent Grisham and Ha-Seong Kim hit back-to-back singles, and Jurickson Profar scored them both with a triple. Jake Marisnick’s RBI single and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s single-ended Criswell’s night.
The early offensive surge was exactly what the Padres needed. The cushion let Joe Musgrove pitch with confidence and fill the zone with strikes. His slider and curveball were sharp early, allowing him to be ultra-efficient in this outing. He pitched the entire game, striking out nine while only giving up three hits and two walks in 111 total pitches. This was easily his best outing since his April 9 no-hitter.
This was the best showing in weeks for the Padres. Five runs off ten hits, and a complete game from the starter is exactly what the doctor ordered. The bullpen has been overused all season, and Joe Musgrove single-handedly gave them all a much-needed night off. “Things haven’t been going our way, but hopefully, we can turn it around right now,” Musgrove said after the game.
Musgrove also mentioned but wasn’t specific about new routines with new interim pitching coach Ben Fritz. If Padres pitchers keep having outings like this one and Blake Snell’s last outing, the Padres will look to drop the “interim” from Fritz’s job title.
The Padres defense was stellar on Thursday as well.
Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds won their game earlier in the day. With that, the Padres stay two games back for the final NL wild-card spot.