Musgrove, Padres send Mets packing

NEW YORK (AFP) — San Diego pitcher Joe Musgrove was overwhelming in a one-hit victory as the Padres blanked the New York Mets, 6-0, to advance in the Major League Baseball playoffs.

The Padres defeated the Mets, 2-1, in their best-of-three National League wildcard playoff series to secure a spot against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a best-of-five division series that begins Tuesday in Los Angeles.

“Excited. Ready to get it going,” Musgrove said.

“This is the first step.”

The 29-year-old right-hander sparked his hometown Padres by striking out five batters and allowing only one hit and one walk in seven scoreless innings for a historic triumph.

“I was just focused on execution,” Musgrove said.

“I had a lot of stuff working. I located the ball really well. I’m executing really well.”

Masterful Musgrove became the first pitcher in 127 MLB winner-take-all playoff games to pitch seven shutout innings and allow one hit or less.

Padres relief pitchers Robert Suarez and Josh Hader each hurled a shutout inning to complete the romp. The Mets managed only two base runners for the game.

Musgrove held his composure in the sixth inning after Mets manager Buck Showalter had the umpires check his uniform and body for traces of an improper substance to help him grip the ball.

“I had seen him do it before, checking the pitcher,” Musgrove said.

“I get it. They are on their last legs. They are desperate. They are going to do everything they can to get me out of the game at that point.”

The inspection turned up no improper substances but it did inspire maestro Musgrove to mystify the Mets batters even more than he had before.

“It motivated me a little bit. It fired me up,” he said.

“I had been throwing the ball well all night and they were doing anything they could to get me out of there.”

He gave a look to the Mets dugout after being cleared of any improper moves.

“I had the opportunity to stick it to them a little bit, stick it to the crowd and I took it,” Musgrove said. “Then I had to get back to work.”

Austin Nola opened the scoring with a two-run single in the second inning.

“We quieted this place down pretty quickly in the second inning with those two runs,” Musgrove said.

Trent Grisham singled in a run for San Diego in the fourth inning and Manny Machado singled in a run in the fifth. Juan Soto drove in two runs with a single in the eighth.

The Dodgers went 14-5 against San Diego during the regular season and finished an MLB-best 111-51 to stand 22 games ahead of the Padres in the NL West division standings.

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