Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock (13452500av) San Diego Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove (44) reacts at the end of the seventh inning of Game 3 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series against the New York Mets, in New York Padres Mets Baseball, New York, United States – 09 Oct 2022
National League Wild Card Series, Game 3: Padres 6 , Mets 0
Game 3 between the Padres and Mets on Sunday night was the first true winner-take-all of the 2022 MLB Postseason, and the tension at Citi Field was high from the first pitch. The visiting Padres would jump out to an early lead on Mets’ starter Chris Bassitt in the second inning on an Aaron Nola single, scoring two runs after San Diego had loaded the bases on a single and two walks. They’d add another run in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-0 on a run-scoring single by Trent Grisham, as Joe Musgrove worked through four perfect innings.
Mets’ manager Buck Showalter would remove Bassitt after four innings, replacing him with left hander David Peterson. The Padres would continue their onslaught of hard contact regardless, adding another run when Manny Machado drove in Jurickson Profar with a single to extend their lead to 4-0. Drew Smith was next out of the Mets’ bullpen in the sixth, and he would work out of a 2-out rally by inducing a ground ball by Jurickson Profar.
Buck Showalter would emerge from the Mets dugout right as Joe Musgrove was to begin pitching in the sixth, seemingly asking the umpiring crew to check the Padres’ starter for some sort of illegal substance. The umpires would check Musgrove’s hands, hat, and even his ears, but found nothing as Musgrove would be allowed to continue pitching. We may not ever know what Showalter’s intentions really were with creating the delay, but I’d guess the delay was a diversion for the sake of potentially throwing Musgrove off rhythm. After retiring the side in order for the fifth time in six innings, Musgrove let Showalter hear it on his way off the field. As if what some might consider baseball karma was emerging in real time, San Diego would kick off the seventh with two soft hits to put runners on second and third against Seth Lugo – but Lugo and Mychal Givens would combine to retire the next three consecutive hitters and escape the jam.
After the Padres put two runners on to begin the top of the eighth, Showalter turned to closer Edwin Diaz in an attempt to keep the decisive Game 3 from getting out of hand. The crowd at Citi Field was a bit too nervous to fully involve themselves in the normal pomp and circumstance that comes with Diaz’s arrival, and Juan Soto would extend the Padres lead to 6-0 moments later with a single down the left field line.
Joe Musgrove would exit the game after seven strong innings, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to pitch seven scoreless innings on 1 hit or fewer in a winner-take-all game. Robert Suarez and Josh Hader would each pitch a scoreless inning for San Diego end the night quietly, and the Mets season along with it. It’ll be Padres-Dodgers in the NLDS, starting Tuesday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.