Padres blow late lead as Pirates win 5-4

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Musgrove had an excellent start but the bullpen faltered late as the Pirates completed the sweep of the Padres on Thursday.

The Padres have been one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far, considering they were in everyone’s preseason top 5 and are now 37-44 and have lost five games in a row to the Nationals and Pirates (two teams that had been struggling immensely prior to playing San Diego). There were some positives from the game as Joe Musgrove threw very well again, and it marked the second day in a row a Padres starter got through 6 innings with 2 or fewer runs given up (Blake Snell had 10 K’s through 6 innings yesterday). However, just like yesterday’s game, the Padres bullpen blew the team’s chance at winning late after the lineup failed to score a run following the 4th inning.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Bullpen problems continue

For the second straight game the Padres bullpen didn’t execute when needed to. On Wednesday, following an excellent start by Snell, Nick Martinez came in to start the 7th inning and gave up 5 runs and didn’t record an out. The Pirates ended up winning 7-1. Earlier today, following a superb start from Musgrove, Tim Hill came in to pitch in the 7th inning with the Padres up 4-2 and gave up 3 runs while recording just one out before being taken out of the game.

Thankfully for the Padres, Luis Garcia minimized any further damage from happening, pitching a scoreless 1.2 total innings pitched to finish the game. Still, even when Garcia came in, the damage was already done and unless the Padres lineup could cough up a few more runs, the game was essentially over with the Pirates up 5-4. Too many times this season, but especially as of late, Padres starting pitchers are doing their jobs just to have the bullpen falter late. It can’t just be Josh Hader that is productive out of the pen, other players like Martinez and Hill have to pitch better for the Padres to win consistently.

Joe Musgrove has yet another quality start

Thursday’s excellent outing was Joe Musgrove’s fourth consecutive quality start and his ERA in the month of June is now 2.25. On Thursday, Musgrove struck out 6 guys and minimized mistakes by only allowing 2 runs despite giving up 7 hits in 6 innings pitched. The Padres got him some early run support and going into the 7th inning they were up 4-2. Musgrove now has 30 strikeouts and just 7 walks in 36 innings pitched in June and needs to continue to be consistent if the bullpen can’t minimize mistakes.

Padres bats still can’t wake up

Aside from their two game stretch last weekend where they had an impressive 10-1 victory over the Giants and then 13-3 victory over the Nationals, the Padres have mustered together just 12 total runs in their last 5 games (all games they lost). In that same stretch the Padres gave up 31 runs and were blown out in 3 out of their last 5 games in total. The biggest issue here continues to be the lack of ran support from a lineup that was supposed to be on the best in baseball.

Manny Machado is hitting just .248 with 9 home runs, 33 RBI’s, and an OPS of only .690 this season and Xander Bogartes is hitting .260 with 8 home runs, 28 RBI’s, and an OPS of just .735. Even Juan Soto (despite his amazing OBP of .424) is hitting just .268 and when 3 of the 4 best hitters on the team aren’t producing at the level they are expected to, it is going to have a seismic effect on the production of the lineup.

The Padres will travel to Cincinnati to play the Reds on Friday for a 3-game series with Seth Lugo set to pitch against Graham Ashcraft. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 PST.