MILWAUKEE -- Joe Musgrove is simply untouchable.
With eight innings of one-hit baseball, Musgrove earned his 10th quality start of the season in the Padres’ 7-0 win against the Brewers on Friday night at American Family Field.
“Just a fantastic game again,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been doing it all year, and I don’t know if anybody has pitched better than he has this year.”
That quality start gave Musgrove an MLB-leading 10 this year and put him in rare company in franchise history. He tied Dennis Rasmussen’s 1991 franchise record for the most consecutive quality starts to begin a season.
Musgrove almost made more history as he flirted with another no-hitter -- which would have been the second of his career and the Padres’ second in their 54-season history. The right-hander threw the team’s first no-hitter last year on April 9 against the Rangers.
And like last time, Musgrove drank a lot of water during the middle innings and needed a bathroom break. But, once again, he made the conscious decision to not go -- to stay in his groove.
“I felt a little more calm,” said Musgrove of flirting with the no-no. “I’ve gone through it before -- makes it a little bit easier.”
But after 7 2/3 innings on Friday, the no-hit bid was over. The right-hander allowed a two-out double from Kolten Wong -- over the shoulder of right fielder José Azocar. And as Wong landed safely into second base, the Brewers second baseman tipped his helmet to Musgrove.
“The guy basically almost threw a no-hitter,” Wong said. “You just have to battle and try to break that thing up. I've faced him enough in my career that there's mutual respect. He was on tonight, and I just have to tip my cap to him.”
Musgrove’s eight scoreless innings -- just one hit and three walks with six strikeouts -- helped push his record to 6-0 on the season. That’s the first time a Padres pitcher has started a season 6-0 since 2015, when James Shields went 7-0 to open the year.
“I felt really good,” Musgrove said. “I was able to use just about all my pitches. My backdoor cutter has been a really big weapon for me, and today every one I threw was leaking over the plate.”
It was also a career-high 114 pitches for Musgrove -- which topped his previous high of 112 during his no-hitter. Melvin wanted the 29-year-old to finish the game and finish it with less than 130 pitches.
“I was starting to get a little nervous with the pitch count,” Melvin said. “There’s never an easy day for a manager in a game like that; 130 is probably that number that I had in my mind.”
At times, it felt like Musgrove was going to complete the feat and join a list of 35 pitchers who have had multiple no-hitters. Musgrove felt it, Melvin felt it and there were certainly moments that captured it.
In the seventh inning, emotions were high for Musgrove, who started to feel like his second career no-no was possible. On an infield popup toward the Padres’ dugout on the third-base side, Musgrove sprinted and tried calling off Manny Machado before the third baseman retrieved the out.
Then, two batters later, Musgrove struck out Jace Peterson and showed some emotion on the mound as he yelled out.
“When you got no hits and you’re that deep in the game, there’s a lot of tension and excitement built up,” Musgrove said. “I try to maintain an even keel throughout the game. But as you get late, sometimes you got to let a little bit out.”
Musgrove knew early on -- in the third or fourth inning -- that this was going to be a special night. He felt more comfortable on the mound than his no-hitter, and he was executing his pitches, especially his cutter.
That cutter, though, was what ended the no-hit bid. But Musgrove doesn’t regret the pitch, especially since he was successful with it all night -- throwing it 32 times, 10 more than any of his five other pitch selections. Wong just happened to get a hold of this one.
“I wouldn’t say it was a mistake pitch,” Musgrove said. “To go back, I wouldn’t change the pitch, just try to get it in a little more.”