Joe Musgrove‘s afternoon didn’t start as well as he had hoped. Just five pitches into his outing, the Padres found themselves behind 1-0 as Chicago Cubs rookie Christopher Morel took a Musgrove fastball over the right field wall for a leadoff home run.
After surrendering another run in the second inning after a walk to Nico Hoerner and RBI single from Andrelton Simmons, it appeared as though Musgrove’s stretch of 11 consecutive quality starts to begin the season would be in jeopardy.
Joe begged to differ.
In those first two innings, Musgrove allowed two runs on four hits. He would follow that up with five consecutive scoreless innings and only one additional hit allowed, completing his outing after seven innings and nine strikeouts (106 pitches) as the Padres held on to win 6-4 and sweep the Cubs. Taylor Rogers closed the game with his Major-League-leading 20th save.
With the start, Musgrove ran his stretch of quality starts to 12 in a row to start the season, the most in the Majors. It’s the fifth time that Musgrove has completed at least seven innings in a start this season and his nine strikeouts were a personal season-high. The Padres improve their record to 11-1 when Musgrove starts, the best record they have of any starting pitcher on the team.
Musgrove improves his own record to 8-0 on the season, joining Dodgers starters Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson as the only starters in the league to win their first eight decisions in 2022 thus far (Gonsolin and Anderson are also 8-0).
The Padres continued to supply the offense for Musgrove throughout the afternoon. After posting totals of 19 and 12 runs in their previous two victories, the Padres 6 runs scored on Thursday brought their run total in the series to 43, good for the second-most runs scored in a four-game series in franchise history (in a wild June 2019 series against the Rockies, the Padres scored 44 runs).
Nomar Mazara started the scoring early for the Padres with a two-run home run in the top of the second inning, his first home run in a Padres uniform. After the game, Mazara was asked about how it felt hitting his first home run in a Padres uniform: “For sure, it feels great. I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate, but I was looking for that first one to come for sure…First one and hopefully many more to come.”
What’s also notable about Mazara’s home run is that it was his first home run in the MLB in over a year (June 11, 2021, was the date of Mazara’s last big league HR). Through 43 plate appearances with the Padres in 2022, Mazara is hitting .350. Mazara was also asked about his success at the plate so far this season and how he’s been able to consistently perform: “I feel pretty good, just sticking to my plan…The situation is going to dictate if you want to swing hard or not. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
Manny Machado followed up his milestone night on Wednesday with another three-hit performance on Thursday afternoon. Machado collected his 1,500th MLB hit in the first inning on Wednesday, capping off a 3-for-4 night with 4 RBI. He was 3-for-5 with another RBI on Thursday and is now hitting .328.
Jake Cronenworth couldn’t advance his consecutive three-hit games streak but added an RBI double in Thursday’s win to cap off an impressive 10-for-17 series that saw his average increase from .221 to .246.
After losing their first two games of June, the Padres have gone 11-3 in their past 14 games and have outscored their opponents by 53 runs in that span.
With their sweep of the Cubs, the Padres close the season series with a 5-2 record against Chicago, who have now lost ten consecutive games.
The Padres improve their overall record to 41-24 and will hold an overnight lead in the NL West for the first time since April 11th. Los Angeles sits 1/2 game behind, with San Francisco 4 1/2 games back after play on Thursday.
The Padres will head to Colorado for the first time this season to face the Rockies after the teams split a four-game series in San Diego last weekend. MacKenzie Gore will be on the mound for the Padres as he looks to rebound from the shortest outing of his Major League career against these same Rockies, while Kyle Freeland will start for Colorado.