Mets vs. Padres score: San Diego knocks out 101-win New York with one-hitter in Wild Card Series Game 3

Mets vs.  Padres score: San Diego knocks out 101-win New York with one-hitter in Wild Card Series Game 3

The San Diego Padres will continue on and the 101-win New York Mets are heading home. Sunday night the Padres dominated the Mets in Game 3 of their Wild Card Series matchup (SD 6, NY 0). Padres righty Joe Musgrove was dominant despite the Mets’ efforts to throw him out of rhythm, and the offense seemed to pick up every timely hit.

New York mustered only two baserunners in the game — a single and a walk in separate innings — and the Padres are the first team ever to throw a one-hitter in a winner-take all postseason game. They will now take on the rival Los Angeles Dodgers when the NLDS begins Tuesday.

Here are four takeaways from Game 3.

The Mets asked to check Musgrove for sticky stuff

It reeked of desperation. With his team down 4-0 in the sixth inning, Mets manager Buck Showalter asked the umpires to check Padres righty Joe Musgrove for foreign substances. Musgrove was dealing — only one baserunner allowed at the time — and Showalter was doing what he could to disrupt him or, ideally, get him out of the game.

It didn’t work. The umpires checked Musgrove, including touching his ears, and he remained in the game. He gestured toward the Mets dugout after a strikeout later in the inning, then pointed his ears at the crowd as he walked off the field after the inning.

Managers have always been able to ask the umpires to check a pitcher for foreign substances, though they rarely do because it is mutually assured destruction. Every team has pitchers using foreign substances, and if you check someone else’s pitcher, they are going to ask to check your pitcher. It is the way of the world, which is why so few foreign substance checks are requested.

For what it’s worth, Musgrove’s velocity and spin rates were up in Game 3, though the increases fell within the range of normal start-to-start fluctuation, and within the range he showed during the regular season. Also, it’s a postseason elimination game. There’s adrenaline. Musgrove showing a velocity uptick is not the most surprising thing in the world given the circumstances.

In the end, Musgrove dominated before and after the foreign-substance check. He allowed a single and a walk in seven otherwise spotless innings, and the Mets did not have a runner make it a far as third base. According to MLB.comMusgrove is the first pitcher in history to throw at least seven innings with no more than two hits allowed in a winner-take-all postseason game.

(Is it mean to point out the Mets were part of the three-team trade that sent Musgrove from the Pirates to the Padres two years ago? They sent catcher/outfielder Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates and received lefty Joey Lucchesi from San Diego. MLB .com now ranks Rodriguez as the No. 97 prospect in baseball. Lucchesi is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.)

San Diego kept stepping out on Bassitt


The first inning could not have gone better for the Mets and Chris Bassitt. Three up, three down on only seven pitches. Things got dicey after that. The Padres built a rally on a ground ball single and back-to-back two-outs walks in the second, then No. 9 hitter Austin Nola yanked a two-out, two-strike ground ball through the left side to score two runs .

After that first inning Bassitt faced 15 batters and six reached base, and six of the 10 balls in play had a 95 mph exit velocity or better. He threw 61 pitches and the Padres swung and missed twice. Bassitt fooled no one in Game 3 and he exited with the Mets down 3-0 after four innings. A disappointing end to what was a very good regular season for the free agent-to-be-righty.

Also, either by design or by coincidence, Padres hitters stepped out of the box a lot — A LOT — against Bassitt. He’s never been an especially quick worker, though he doesn’t work so slow that hitters often become impatient in the box. San Diego stepped out enough that Mets manager Buck Showalter was asked about it during an in-game ESPN interview (he said he didn’t mind).

My guess — and I emphasize this is just a guess — is all the stepping out was intentional. Padres skipper Bob Melvin managed Bassitt with the Athletics from 2015-21, so he knows him well, and that means knowing what gets under his skin. I don’t want to say all the stepping out tripped up Bassitt and explains his subpar outing, but San Diego’s hitters did ask for time at an inordinate rate.

Grisham did more damage

There is no such thing as the Wild Card Series MVP, but if there were, Trent Grisham would have won it this weekend. He took Max Scherzer deep in Game 1, Jacob deGrom deep in Game 2, then he drove in a run with a two-out single against Bassitt in Game 3. And because that wasn’t enough, he saved a run with a tremendous running catch in center in the fifth inning.

Grisham’s big weekend comes after a dreadful regular season. He hit .184/.284/.341 this year, ranking 126th in OPS among the 130 hitters with enough flat appearances to qualify for the batting title. The postseason is a clean slate though. Every team is 0-0 and every hitter has a fresh slash line. Grisham reached base four times in Game 3 and went 4 for 8 with two homers, two walks, and zero strikeouts in the Wild Card Series.

Soto and McNeil each did something unusual

You never know what you’re going to see when you show up to the ballpark each day and, in Game 3, Juan Soto and Jeff McNeil each did something unusual. Unusual for them, at least. First, Solo laid down a sacrifice bunt! He was trying to bunt for a hit with the third baseman back and shaded toward shortstop, but he goes into the record books as a sac bunt. It is Soto’s first sac bunt since his rookie year in 2018, and only the second of his MLB career. Manny Machado, the next batter, singled out in the run. Soto then drove in two insurance runs with a single in the eighth.

And second, McNeil struck out! He had gone 60 plate appearances — since Sept. 20 — without striking out. That’s an eternity given the league strikeout rate these days. McNeil struck out in only 10.4 percent of his plate appearances this year, the third lowest rate among qualified hitters and well below the 22.4 percent league average. Alas and alack, McNeil’s strikeout came at a bad time — with a runner on first and no outs in the fifth. It contributed to snuffing out a potential rally.

Up next

As noted, the Padres are going to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Mets are going home. The Wild Card Series round is officially over and the Division Series is up next. Game 1 at Dodger Stadium — Game 1 of every Division Series, it should be noted — is scheduled for Tuesday. Here’s the full postseason schedule.

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