Padres silence Mets, move on to NLDS

Friars to face Dodgers after Musgrove leads way to Game 3 shutout win

October 10th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Hours after he’d thrown seven innings of one-hit ball in a winner-take-all postseason game -- hours after he’d been the subject of a bizarre check for sticky stuff behind his ears -- stood at the center of a party that was still raging in the visiting clubhouse at Citi Field.

It was there that teammate found Musgrove, having just grabbed a bottle of champagne. Machado broke into a grin and uncorked the bottle.

“I got your sticky stuff right here,” Machado yelled -- and he doused Musgrove with Brut from head to toe.

It was that kind of night. Whatever the Mets tried, they weren’t going to derail Musgrove and the Padres. With a comprehensive 6-0 victory in Game 3 of the National League Wild Card Series, San Diego is headed to the NL Division Series, beginning Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

“That shows you what kind of team we have,” said . “When we put everything together, we can do anything.”

The Padres’ victory was so decisive, the only real drama came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Mets manager Buck Showalter asked the umpiring crew to inspect Musgrove for a foreign substance. The game paused temporarily, while crew chief Alfonso Márquez adjudged Musgrove clean of any sticky stuff. And the Padres picked up right where they left off -- dominating the Mets.

“At the point in the game when it happened, I was so dialed in already,” Musgrove said. “All my pitches felt good. I felt like I was executing. So it almost just kind of lit a fire under me.”

Unfazed, Musgrove wouldn’t allow a hit over the next two innings, and he became the first pitcher in postseason history to throw seven scoreless, one-hit innings in a winner-take-all game.

Robert Suarez and Josh Hader also held the Mets hitless in relief, and when Machado’s throw settled in Wil Myers’ glove in the bottom of the ninth, it set off quite a celebration. No team in baseball history had ever allowed just one hit in a winner-take-all postseason game. Before Sunday, that is.

“That was a tremendous baseball game, there’s no other way to say it,” said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. “You get a starting pitcher in Musgrove with total dominance -- command, control, power, in an incredible environment. Suarez and Hader at the back of the bullpen throwing absolute pellets and strikes. Defense, too. ... Just a total team effort.”

Nearly 40,000 fans came to party on Sunday night in Queens, orange towels waving, in full voice from the very first pitch. It was who silenced them first, as the Padres continued their string of unlikely playoff heroes. His two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the second inning put San Diego on top, 2-0.

From there, the Padres’ offense was relentless. and Machado tacked on RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings, and Grisham, in a continuation of his remarkable October turnaround, made an outstanding running catch before colliding with the right-center-field wall in the bottom of the fifth.

“It’s a ball hit in my direction,” Grisham said. “I didn’t know if there was going to be room. ... I just go until I know I can’t catch it.”

They don’t give out Wild Card Series MVPs, but if they did, this one would assuredly go to Grisham.

The ballpark briefly came to life after Showalter emerged to ask the umpires to inspect Musgrove in the sixth. But that energy ebbed quickly. An unflappable Musgrove continued to work his way through the Mets’ lineup with ease.

Soto’s two-run single in the eighth put the game out of reach, sending thousands for the Citi Field exits. The ballpark grew eerily silent, save for the hollers coming from the third-base dugout.

“I love it,” Soto said. “I love it -- every second. ... You love to see your own crowd going wild. But when you’re on the road, you want to shut them down.”

One way or another, the Padres knew they had a flight back to Southern California early Monday morning. But they aren’t returning home just yet. They’ll take a brief two-game detour to Dodger Stadium.

After that, well, it’s been 16 years since the Padres last played a postseason game before fans at Petco Park. That drought will end on Friday.

“It's one of the best feelings about this night,” said manager Bob Melvin. “We talked about it in the hitters meeting today, too. There's a lot on the line here, and there are a lot of reasons to be motivated and inspired. One of them is bringing this thing back to San Diego and giving them a postseason experience, which they deserve.”

With the party still raging around 11 p.m. ET, a Padres staffer entered the clubhouse and lowered the music. The players groaned. Shortly thereafter, he turned it off entirely. They booed. “Twelve o’clock bus,” another staffer intoned.

The Padres had a flight to catch. Having beaten the 101-win Mets, their reward is now a date with the 111-win Dodgers beginning Tuesday night.

“We beat a really good team,” Soto said. “It just shows you -- we can beat anybody else.”