Tatis homers in Musgrove’s return as Padres edge D-backs 5-3

Apr 22, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) hits a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Field- Phoenix, AZ

The Padres looked to turn things around after being decimated by the Diamondbacks on Friday night. In a series that is about returns for the Padres, after Fernando Tatis Jr. made his on Thursday, it as Joe Musgrove‘s turn to make his 2023 debut.

Musgrove battled some rust and pesky Arizona hitters while the Padres offense did just enough to edge out the Diamondbacks 5-3.

Before Musgrove even took the mound on Saturday, the Padres offense did him a solid. That started with Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting his first home run in a regular season major league game since September 30, 2021.

“You want to get your first hit, then your first homer, then it’s off to the races,” manager Bob Melvin said after the game. “He’ll get his first stolen base here soon.”

The Friars weren’t done after that. Xander Bogaerts worked a walk ahead of Matt Carpenter, who hit a 412-foot double off of the center field wall. That put the Padres up 2-0 after just half an inning.

Then it was Musgrove’s turn. Clearly, there was some rust, maybe even nerves as well. He allowed two singles that were over 104 mph off the bat and another single, which scored Arizona’s first run.

The El Cajon native encountered more trouble in the bottom of the third when Christian Walker hit a two-run homer, giving the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead. After that mistake, Musgrove was able to settle in to finish with two scoreless frames.

All told it was an uneven debut for the 2022 All-Star. In five innings, he allowed three earned runs on seven hits. However, he also struck out six without allowing a walk.

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It was up to the Padres bats to pick up their starter. They got Arizona starter Merrill Kelly in some hot water to start the sixth. After two walks and a single, the Friars had the bases loaded with no one out. Then, it looked like San Diego was going to allow Kelly to wiggle off the hook. Nelson Cruz and Jake Cronenworth each came up with golden opportunities, and prompty struck out.

It was down to Ha-Seong Kim to not waste a huge, potentially game-altering chance. He then lined a ground ball base hit through the left side for a two-run single, giving the Padres a slim 4-3 lead. It was almost like a sigh of relief went through the team and the fanbase after nearly wasting a huge opportunity.

The work wasn’t done.

Ryan Weathers navigated a stressful seventh inning, getting Josh Rojas to flail at a pitch outside the zone for a strikeout.

The Padres felt the need for an insurance run. Juan Soto led off the eighth with his second single of the game. He made a high-IQ play getting to second and then third on what seemed like a routine ground out by Bogaerts. Soto caught the Diamondbacks infielders napping.

This presented a chance for Cronenworth to atone for his previous strikeout with the bases loaded. The hero of Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers last season came through with a similar hit up the middle, scoring Soto. This gave the Padres the all-important insurance run heading into the ninth.

Josh Hader made quick work of Arizona in the bottom of the ninth, sealing his seven save of the season. The Padres move to 11-12, still battling to get back to .500. A big game looms on Sunday, with the Padres having a chance to take three out of four from the first-place Diamondbacks on the road.

Yu Darvish will get the honors on Sunday for that chance at a big series win.

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