A pair of talented young right-handers will face each other on Sunday when the Atlanta Braves host the San Diego Padres in the rubber match of their three-game series.
The Padres won the first game 11-6 on Friday and the Braves evened things with a dramatic 6-5 comeback win on Saturday. Both games have featured solid starting pitching and late-inning bullpen woes.
This will also be the rubber game for the season series. Each team has won three games. Atlanta has claimed the season series for the last five years.
The Padres will send Joe Musgrove (4-0, 2.08 ERA) against Atlanta’s Kyle Wright (3-2, 3.03) in the finale.
Musgrove, 29, is tied for the league lead with six quality starts. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start all season. In his last outing on May 8 against Miami, Musgrove pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on five hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts — which matched his season high for the third time. He threw a season-high 108 pitches.
Musgrove beat the Braves on April 14 when he worked 6 2/3 shutout innings, striking out six. He has made seven career starts against Atlanta, going 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
Wright, 26, will try to rebound from his worst start of the season. He allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings on May 10 against the Boston Red Sox. It equaled the total number of runs he had allowed in his first five starts combined.
“Obviously I’m not glad the way it turned out, but I think sometimes I get stuck in the trap of thinking I’ve got to put up a zero that you lose focus of the very small goal, which is executing a pitch,” Wright said. “It’s definitely something to learn from and grow from.”
Wright faced the Padres for the first time in his career on April 15 and did not receive a decision. He allowed two runs in five innings and fanned nine.
San Diego slugger Manny Machado is 0-for-8 in the series and his batting average has dipped to .359. His streak of reaching base in 22 straight games was also halted. First baseman Eric Hosmer’s average fell to .364 after he went hitless in four at-bats and ended his five-game hitting streak.
More concerning is the bullpen, which failed to protect a three-run lead with two innings left. Chris Wilson, who had pitched effectively on Friday, was hammered on Saturday.
“We have all the confidence in the world for (Wilson) to get the big out for us,” acting manager Ryan Christenson said. “And we’re going to continue to have confidence.”
Although Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. pronounced himself fit to play on Saturday, the team doctors did not agree and the right fielder missed his third straight game with right groin discomfort. Braves manager Brian Snitker said an MRI found nothing to indicate Acuna needed to go on the injured list and instead said Acuna’s status would be determined on a daily basis.
“It’s the best news possible,” Snitker said. “I don’t know how long it will be. They’ll just treat him up.”
–Field Level Media