Joe Musgrove suffers his first loss of 2022

SAN DIEGO — The Padres were asking a lot of Joe Musgrove on Thursday night. To be fair, they’ve asked a lot of Musgrove all season – and all season the veteran right-hander has delivered.

But when manager Bob Melvin turned to a lineup without his regular 2-3-4 hitters (and still without Fernando Tatis Jr.), the Padres relied on Musgrove to be sensational again.

Maybe for the first time all season, he just wasn’t.

Musgrove was one of the best pitchers in the sport. He allowed six earned runs all through April, then he allowed six earned runs all through May. Thursday night, he allowed six earned runs for the Phillies in a 6-2 loss to the Padres at Petco Park.

It was the first poor outing all season for Musgrove, who hadn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his 12 starts. He was defeated by two costly home runs in the sixth – a two-run outburst from Kyle Schwarber and a three-run shot on the opposite court from JT Realmuto. Musgrove still managed to go six innings, but he recorded just one strikeout and allowed seven hits.

“Everyone is going to have their day,” said Musgrove, who entered the night 8-0. “You just take it for what it is. It’s a bad run that escaped me. Some mediocre pitches. But other than that, I feel like I’m throwing the ball well tonight. Just put this one behind us, start a new streak next time.

Prior to the game, Musgrove was activated from the COVID-19 injured list. He had spent four days away from the team following his Chicago debut last week, before joining the club on Tuesday.

Musgrove was throwing an extra day off. But he had also spent a significant portion of his time between quarantine starts, abandoning his routine.

“A bit of fatigue early in the game, more than I’m used to,” Musgrove said. “I felt like my fastball was fading…so we got away from that a bit in situations where we had runners on base.”

In Musgrove’s estimation, he became a little too reliant on his breaking pitches as a result. For five innings, this plan worked very well. In the sixth, Schwarber and Realmuto capitalized on a pair of sliders that took up too much plate.

“A few broken balls, which he usually locates a little better, to two really good hitters,” Melvin said. “…It’s really probably the only round this year where you’ve seen those kinds of results from the opposing team against Joe.”

Offensively, meanwhile, the Padres haven’t done much to support Musgrove. Eric Hosmer had two hits, including a massive solo home run in the second inning. (He also shone some leather at first base, with a trio of impressive short-hopping picks as Musgrove took a no-hitter in the fifth.)

But outside of Hosmer, the Padres haven’t done much. Perhaps that was to be expected, given who was in their starting lineup – or, more specifically, who wasn’t.

Jake Cronenworth had not sat since May 19. Against a tough southpaw like Ranger Suárez, the Padres had always planned to give him a night off. Never mind that Manny Machado stayed out with a sprained left ankle. And it didn’t matter that Luke Voit’s hamstrings were barking.

Melvin was true to his dedication to the bigger picture, and that meant Cronenworth got through the night no matter what. Even on his bobblehead night – a fact Melvin said he was unaware of when the staff started planning rest days.

“I know it’s not ideal to have a few guys, but that’s exactly where we are today,” Melvin said before the game, before smiling. “I know it’s a bobblehead day. … My bad.”

The Padres don’t expect Voit’s absence to linger. They also received positive news about Machado, who has been doing light training and taking swings in the cage. In short, there won’t be too many roster setups like this, in which the Padres were perhaps without their four most powerful bats.

But with Musgrove on the mound, they thought they had a chance. With Musgrove on the mound, they still think they have a chance. Thursday night, that was not the case.

“Those first four runs felt exactly like he’s been doing all year,” Melvin said. “But they’re a very good batting team. The third time they got it.

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