SAN DIEGO (AP) — Joe Musgrove had been nervous about Thursday night ever since manager Bob Melvin told the big right-hander during spring training that he was going to start the home opener for his hometown Padres.
It was all worth it when Musgrove walked off the mound with two outs in the seventh inning to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 44,844 at Petco Park.
“Getting to open up in front of your hometown, a full stadium, especially when baseball is as exciting as it is in San Diego, it’s everything I dreamed of,” Musgrove said after the Padres routed the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves 12-1.
Musgrove pitched brilliantly and had plenty of help from an offense that had been somewhat lethargic opening the season. Manny Machado homered and tied his career high with five hits, and rookie C.J. Abrams hit his first homer for San Diego.
As the bottom of the sixth dragged on, Melvin told Musgrove he didn’t think he needed to go back out there. Musgrove, who grew up in suburban El Cajon, wanted to stay in the game.
“He said, ‘What if I give you two hitters and then pull you out and see if we can get you a little ovation,'” Musgrove said. “I said I’m up for that. My focus was just getting those first two guys.”
Not long after the crowd gave Musgrove an ovation, it roared after Machado hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the inning, his first.
Machado went 5 for 5, scored four runs, had two RBIs and stole two bases. Eric Hosmer had four hits while new designated hitter Luke Voit drove in three runs. Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies homered leading off the ninth, his second.
Musgrove’s start came a year and five days after he threw the first no-hitter in franchise history, at Texas in his second start with the Padres.
Musgrove (1-0) held the Braves to four hits, struck out six and walked none. It was the first time in his seven-year career that he earned a start in a home opener.
Musgrove said he was stressed earlier in the day and his girlfriend was upset that he wasn’t talking with her in the morning because he was “just trying to get myself in the right head space.
“It’s a good feeling to have the support of an entire city, but we also feel a little bit more pressure when everyone’s reaching out and everyone’s pulling for you and everyone’s coming to watch you,” Musgrove said. “It was nice to have a little bit of excitement from the offense and some of the other guys on the team to take a little bit of that off.”
Said Melvin: “For one day, that’s about as perfect a day as you can have, with a full house, opening day, Joe on the mound, Manny, Hos, C.J. home run. You can’t script it any better than that.”
Braves starter Charlie Morton (1-1) struggled through five innings. He allowed five runs and nine hits, struck out five, walked three and hit two batters. He also got the 1,500th strikeout of his career.
Abrams, the sixth pick overall in the 2019 draft, made the club after a strong spring. The 21-year-old shortstop, who’s from the Atlanta area, hit an opposite-field homer to left on Morton’s second pitch of the second. Voit added an RBI double to make it 5-0. Voit hit a two-run single in the sixth.
Abrams, whose parents were in the stands, got the silent treatment from his teammates in the dugout after his home trot and then answered a curtain call.
“It was a great experience. It was crazy,” Abrams said. “The crowd was electric. We jumped on them early and got the win.”
Morton got into trouble in the first when he hit two batters and allowed a single to load the bases after just four batters. Hosmer drove in two runs on a two-out single and Wil Myers singled in another run.
Padres: LHP Blake Snell was placed on the injured list, retroactive to Monday, with a tight left adductor.
The four-game series continues Friday night when Padres LHP MacKenzie Gore is scheduled to make his big league debut opposite Braves RHP Kyle Wright (1-0, 0.00), who will face the Padres for the first time. Gore, the third pick overall in the 2017 draft, takes Snell’s rotation spot.
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