Joe Musgrove blanks Mets as Padres advance to NLDS vs. Dodgers


The New York Mets are going to get an ear full.

With their season on the line in a do-or-die Game 3 of the National League Wild Card Series on Sunday, the Mets mustered just two baserunners and fell 6-0 to the San Diego Padres. Joe Musgrove allowed just one hit over seven innings for the Padres, with Buck Showalter and a desperate Mets throwing the ball so well that they called for a substance check on the pitcher prior to the bottom of the sixth inning. 

Umpires stopped the game to inspect Musgrove’s ears for a foreign substance but found nothing and the game resumed.

The 29-year-old Musgrove, in his first career postseason start, opened the game by tossing four perfect innings. He went on to toss seven innings, striking out five and walking one to help send the Padres to the best-of-five Division Series against the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday.

As for the 101-win Mets, a team that once held a 10.5-game lead in the NL East, a once-promising season comes to a stunning and abrupt end.

The Padres took an early lead after Austin Nola hit a two-out single with the bases loaded to drive in two runs for a 2-0 advantage in the top of the second inning. 

The Padres tacked on another run after Ha-Seong Kim drew a two-out walk, stole second base and came home on a single by Trent Grisham to push the lead to 3-0. Manny Machado’s RBI single in the fifth made it 4-0 and Juan Soto drove in two more runs with a single in the eighth to cap the scoring. 

The deciding game was between two organizations who invested heavily into their team's championship pursuit. 

The Mets, in the postseason for the first time since losing the wild card game in 2016, now boast the highest payroll in Major League Baseball at over $282 million, per spotrac

Under owner Steve Cohen, who finalized a deal to purchase the Mets in late 2020, the team became big spenders in free agency, bringing in Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million deal in 2021, and Max Scherzer, who inked a three-year, $130 million deal prior to this season. 

The Padres, having assembled a star-studded roster in recent years, have the league's fifth-highest payroll at over $236 million. And that's before factoring in the looming potential long-term contract for Juan Soto, who turned down a $440 million deal from the Nationals and was subsequently dealt to San Diego for prospects. 

The Padres' spending spree began in 2019 when they signed Manny Machado to what was then the highest free-agent contract in American sports history with a 10-year, $300 million deal. After making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020, the Padres acquired a pair of aces over a 24-hour span, making separate trades for Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. 

Facing lofty expectations during the 2021 season, the team finished a disappointing 79-83. They then locked up their young star and MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. with a 14-year, $340 million extension. Tatis then suffered a broken wrist in the offseason and was suspended in August 2022 for 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.        

San Diego made the postseason this season for just the second time in 16 years, having been swept by the eventual champion Dodgers in the 2020 NLDS. 

The Padres won the opener of the 2022 Wild Card Series against the Mets 7-1, hitting four home runs off of Scherzer while Darvish tossed a gem. The Mets bounced back in Game 2 as their stars stepped up in a 7-3 win as Jacob deGrom tossed six solid innings and Lindor and Pete Alonso each homered. That forced a deciding Game 3 that Musgrove and the Padres went on to dominate.   

The Padres, one of six major league teams to have never won a championship, will now attempt to advance beyond the NLDS for the first time since 1998 when they reached the World Series.

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