Houston’s Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were greeted with vociferous boos when they stepped into the batter’s box Friday night in San Diego.
Meanwhile, another member of the 2017 Astros sat unbothered in the Padres’ dugout.
San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove readily acknowledges he catches none of the grief that his former Houston teammates do. The 28-year-old will take the mound against his ex-club on Saturday night when the Padres host the Astros in the middle contest of a three-game series.
Musgrove was a reliever who struggled in the postseason when the Astros won the 2017 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The sign-stealing scandal became public knowledge late in 2019, and Major League Baseball disciplined the Astros before the 2020 season.
But due to the season being shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, some fan bases are getting their first chance to express their dissatisfaction with Houston players.
Like San Diego with this three-game series.
“I know people will always be upset, and as fans you always want something to hold against the opposing teams,” Musgrove told reporters before Friday’s game. “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but to an extent I’d like these guys to be able to finish out their careers and be recognized for what they are doing and what they’ve done the last handful of years, not just the one year they overstepped.”
Correa did damage with his bat in the opener on Friday. He crushed a three-run homer during a 6-3 win that saw Houston (79-55) increase its lead in the American League West to 5 1/2 games over the second-place Oakland Athletics. Altuve was hitless in five at-bats.
The Padres (71-64) have lost 15 of their past 20 games and trail the Cincinnati Reds by a half-game for the National League’s second wild-card spot.
Musgrove isn’t the lone former 2017 Houston player on the Padres. Outfielder Jake Marisnick also was a member of that Astros squad.
Musgrove was traded after that season to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of the package for right-hander Gerrit Cole. This is his first season with San Diego, and he already has etched his name into franchise lore.
Musgrove threw the club’s first-ever no-hitter on April 9, against the Texas Rangers. He’s coming off his second career shutout after tossing a three-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 27.
Musgrove (9-8, 2.85 ERA) has won four of his past five decisions and has given up two or fewer runs in six of his past seven outings.
He pitched five no-hit innings of relief against the Astros on May 30 in Houston. Musgrove is 1-0 against the Astros and hasn’t allowed a run in 11 career innings against them.
“It’s exciting for me to get to face some buddies and get to challenge each other and have some bragging rights,” Musgrove said.
Left-hander Framber Valdez (9-4, 2.91) will be on the mound for Houston after posting back-to-back strong outings.
Valdez tossed seven innings of three-hit shutout ball during a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 22. He followed by allowing two runs and three hits over seven innings in a win over the Texas Rangers on Aug. 28.
Valdez gave up one run and two hits over four innings on May 28 in his lone career effort against San Diego. It was his first appearance of the season after he fractured a finger on his pitching hand during early March.
Houston’s Kyle Tucker hit a tie-breaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning of Friday’s game. It was his 23rd homer of the season. Correa’s blast was his 21st.
“He hits the ball hard consistently,” Correa said of the 24-year-old Tucker after the win. “He’s a special player. He’s gonna be great for a long time.”
–Field Level Media