Joe Musgrove’s career-best start to the season is also a big reason the San Diego Padres are making history of their own.
Yet to allow a run in June and looking to remain undefeated for the season, Musgrove will try to help the visiting Padres complete a four-game sweep of the lowly Cubs on Thursday. Chicago will aim to end a season-high, nine-game losing streak.
At 40-24, San Diego is off to the best start in franchise history. The Padres are also a stellar 23-11 on the road. They have won six straight away from home for the first time in a single season since an eight-game run in 2006.
“The guys are playing well right now, and we just keep building every night off what we’re doing,” second baseman Jake Cronenworth said, according to the Padres’ official website. Cronenworth is batting .413 (19-for-46) with 20 RBIs in his past 12 games.
After winning 4-1 on Monday in the series opener, San Diego pounded out 36 hits while outscoring the Cubs 31-10 over the past two games. The Padres, who posted their highest run total of the season on Wednesday in a 19-5 rout, last swept a road set from the Cubs in 2010 — also spanning four games.
They would appear in good shape to repeat that feat with Musgrove (7-0, 1.50 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander has been the star of an exceptional San Diego rotation, ranking among the major league leaders in ERA, opponents’ batting average (.196) and WHIP (0.93). Musgrove has allowed one run over 27 innings while going 3-0 in his past four starts.
He hasn’t yielded a run in 16 consecutive innings, 14 covering his last two starts against Milwaukee and Colorado. It’s a remarkable run for Musgrove, a seven-year veteran who hadn’t finished with a winning record until he went 11-9 with a 3.18 ERA a season ago, his first with San Diego.
“It’s more about pitching quality throughout the whole year and getting us into the postseason — and still maintaining that,” Musgrove said, according to the San Diego Times-Union. “I’ve still got a little bit of work to do before we get there, but I put myself in a good position.”
Musgrove has fared well against the Cubs, posting a 1.97 ERA and .181 opponents’ batting average despite a 3-3 mark in eight career starts.
However, Chicago’s Ian Happ is 3-for-7 with two doubles vs. Musgrove. Meanwhile, Willson Contreras and Yan Gomes are each 3-for-8 against him, with Gomes producing a home run and four RBIs.
Happ is batting .385 in his past 14 games, and Contreras has gone 12-for-22 (.545) in six contests against the Padres this season. However, the Cubs’ issue of late is that they’ve allowed 53 runs in the past four games, and their relievers have given up 51 earned runs over 45 innings in the past nine.
On the rotation front, rookie Matt Swarmer (1-1, 4.24 ERA) will make his fourth career start for Chicago. The right-hander allowed two earned runs over 12 innings of his first two starts but yielded six solo homers over five innings during an 8-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday.
“I just have to do a better job executing my pitches,” Swarmer said, according to MLB.com. “Hopefully better things happen next start.”
In addition to Cronenworth, Swarmer could have to deal with Luke Voit and Jorge Alfaro, who are a combined 10-for-21 with two homers apiece in the past two games.
–Field Level Media