Musgrove, Padres bounce back to shut out Rockies 3-0

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Before Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies, the trade deadline and the drama that comes along with it dominated the Padres and their fans.

Reports were made public of a deal for Nationals’ starting pitcher Max Scherzer being close, sending a wave of excitement around the baseball world. Not long after that report, more information was released that pointed toward the Padres’ rivals from Los Angeles as the team expected to land Scherzer as well as Washington shortstop Trea Turner.

All of the rumors and reports led to the important four-game series with Colorado at Petco Park being a bit of an afterthought as the first pitch rolled around.  The importance of the game hadn’t changed, the mindset of the players was probably focused on the right thing, but it seemed like someone was going to have to step up for the Padres following a rough 24-hour stretch.

Luckily for San Diego, their hometown kid was up for the challenge.  Joe Musgrove was given the ball on Thursday’s series opener one day after Blake Snell left a sour taste in the mouths of those invested in the team.

Not only did Musgrove pitch well on Thursday night in a big spot, he dominated.  After being spotted an early run following back-to-back doubles by Tommy Pham and Fernando Tatis Jr., Musgrove cruised against a pesky Rockies’ lineup.

Musgrove ended up going seven scoreless innings in a pitcher’s duel with Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland, allowing three hits while striking out 11 and walking only one.  The outing for Musgrove was his best performance since he went seven scoreless innings on June 17 against the Cincinnati Reds at Petco Park.

“He was throwing everything for strikes.  Our pitchers just dominated the zone, getting after guys, not walking hitters.  I think the biggest thing is making the other team swing and putting them in a mode where they possibly have to chase pitches,” said Padres’ catcher Austin Nola following the shutout victory.

Musgrove was replaced by Drew Pomeranz in the eighth inning, who followed Musgrove’s lead by holding Colorado scoreless and striking out a pair.

Offensively, the Padres had seven players collect hits, the most important of which came in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Padres clinging to a 1-0 lead. With two outs and Pham on first, Jake Cronenworth launched his 14th home run of the season off of the right-field foul pole, giving San Diego a much more comfortable 3-0 lead heading into the ninth inning.

“Jake, somehow, has the ability to keep that pitch fair.  That ball bearing in on him, I don’t know how he does it, but he’s got a really good skill set of being able to take pitches, not only in, but a ball or two off the plate sometimes, and he keeps them fair.  He did that and got one off the foul pole for us,” Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler answered when asked about the impressive home run by Cronenworth in the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, Major League Baseball’s saves leader Mark Melancon earned his 32nd save of the season in a scoreless outing following a one-out double by Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story.

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With the win, the Padres (59-45) keep pace with the division-leading Giants and game a game on the second-place Dodgers, who fell to the Giants earlier in the day 5-0.  The Padres remain seven games behind the Giants in the loss column but now trail the Dodgers by only three games in the loss column.

The Padres continue their series against the Rockies Friday night at 7:10 PM, with Ryan Weathers (4-2, 2.73 ERA) facing off against Rockies’ righty Jon Gray (6-6, 3.67 ERA).

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