Joe Musgrove, like most starting pitchers, is a creature of habit.
He likes to follow the same routine between every start. The right-hander also admittedly gets out of sorts if he’s thrown off his schedule.
With that in mind, it would have been perfectly understandable if Musgrove felt ill-at-ease going into his outing Friday night. He had gone seven days since his last start and was limited to only one weightlifting session during that period because of a strained neck.
However, Musgrove certainly didn’t look uncomfortable, allowing only one run in seven innings as the Pirates edged the Padres 2-1 in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park. The Pirates (34-40) won back-to-back games for the first time since beating the Braves at home June 5-6.
"I think this was the perfect opportunity for him," Clint Hurdle said. "I think he went out there and took advantage of the time. He took advantage of the side work. He took advantage of probably some extra gas in his tank."
The Pirates decided to give Musgrove (5-7) extra rest after he started twice in a four-game series against the Braves at Atlanta last week.
Musgrove was ejected in the first inning of the series opener because of the stare down that ensued after he grazed Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson’s jersey with a pitch. With the Pirates short on options because of injuries and ineffectiveness, they went to Musgrove again in the series finale three days later.
While Musgrove didn’t like waiting a week to make his next start, he could not argue with the decision.
“My legs felt heavy because I wasn’t able to do as much lifting as I normally would, but my arm felt really fresh,” Musgrove said when I asked about the effects of the extra time off. “I felt like I had a little extra zip on my pitches than normal. I felt strong.”
The Padres got five hits off Musgrove, who struck out eight and did not issue a walk while throwing 74 of 105 pitches for strikes. Musgrove looked so strong to Hurdle that he didn’t even have to lobby the manager to pitch the seventh inning with the score tied 1-1 after retiring the side in order in the sixth.
Musgrove then got the win when the Pirates scored the tiebreaking run off Eric Lauer (5-7) in the bottom of the seventh. Jung Ho Kang reached on a double error by third baseman Manny Machado – who booted the ball then threw wildly to first base – and pinch runner Steven Brault came home on Jose Osuna’s single to left-center field.
Musgrove felt it was a good night all the way around:
The Padres (38-38) had scored 58 runs in their previous seven games and won four games in a row.
“They swing the bats really well and they’re super aggressive early in counts,” Musgrove said. “I tried to use that aggression against them. I think I’ve been trying to pitch a little too much lately instead of being aggressive with all my pitches. I wanted to stay on the attack.”
Musgrove said he was all for pitching on two days of rest in Atlanta but admitted it probably wasn’t the best idea.
"I was hurting after that Atlanta series," Musgrove said. "I didn't throw a ton of pitches down there, but firing yourself up and preparing for a start, then having it taken away from you, then trying to fire things back up in three days. It was tough. It was harder than I thought to fire back up again so soon."
Musgrove likely won’t have to worry about doing that again anytime soon, though.
“As we walked through it, it’s something we’d have to think twice about before we’d do it again,” Hurdle said.
My five thoughts from Friday can be found here.
• Francisco Cervelli, catcher, is on the seven-day concussion IL.
• Jordan Lyles, right-hander, is on the 10-day IL with left hamstring tightness. He will make a rehab start Sunday for a farm club to be determined.
• Jameson Taillon, right-hander, is on the 60-day IL with a right elbow flexor tendon strain.
• Keone Kela, right-hander, is on the 60-day IL with right shoulder inflammation and is rehabbing at the Pirates' spring training facility in Bradenton, Fla.
• Rookie Davis, right-hander, is on the 10-day DL with a right middle finger blister and is on a rehab assignment at Class AAA Indianapolis.
• Erik Gonzalez, shortstop, is on the 60-day IL with a left clavicle fracture.
• Nick Burdi, relief pitcher, is on the 60-day IL with right elbow/pain caused by a nerve problem and is rehabbing in Bradenton.
• Lonnie Chisenhall, outfielder, is on the 60-day IL with a left calf strain.
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
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