Mets vs. Padres score: San Diego knocks out New York with 101 hits in Game 3 of Wild Card Series

The San Diego Padres will continue and the New York Mets, 101 wins, go home. On Sunday night, the Padres topped the Mets in Game 3 of their Wild Card Series game (SD 6, NY 0). Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove was dominant despite the Mets’ efforts to get him off the pace, and the offense seemed to catch every opportune shot.

New York fielded just two base runners in the game — a single and a walk in separate innings — and the Padres are the first team to hit a hit in a win-win postseason game. They will now face the rival Los Angeles Dodgers when the NLDS begins on Tuesday.

Here are four takeaways from Game 3.

Mets asked to check Musgrove for sticky stuff

It reeked of desperation. With his team trailing 4-0 in the sixth set, Mets manager Buck Showalter asked referees to check padres right 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 did not work. The referees controlled Musgrove, including touching his ears, and he stayed 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 left the field after the inning.

Managers have always been able to ask umpires to check a pitcher for foreign substances, although they rarely do as it is mutually assured destruction. All team has pitchers using foreign substances, and if you check someone else’s pitcher, they will ask to check your pitcher. This is the way of the world, which is why so few foreign substance checks are required.

For what it’s worth, Musgrove’s speed and turn rates have increased in Game 3, though the increases are within the normal fluctuation range from start to start, and within the range he showed during the regular season. Plus, it’s a playoff elimination game. There is adrenaline. Musgrove showing a slight increase in speed isn’t the most surprising thing in the world given the circumstances.

In the end, Musgrove dominated before and after foreign substance control. He allowed a single and a walk in seven otherwise flawless innings, and the Mets had no runner to reach third base. According to MLB.comMusgrove is the first pitcher in history to pitch at least seven innings with no more than two hits allowed in a win-win postseason game.

(Does that mean pointing out that the Mets were part of the three-team trade that sent Musgrove from the Pirates to the Padres two years ago? They sent receiver/outfielder Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates and got left-hander Joey San Diego’s Lucchesi (MLB.com now lists Rodriguez as baseball’s No. 97 prospect. Lucchesi is recovering from Tommy John surgery.)

San Diego continued to come out of Bassitt

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The first inning couldn’t have gone better for the Mets and Chris Bassitt. Three up, three down on just seven slots. Things went downhill after that. The Padres built a rally on a ground fly single and consecutive two-out walks in the second, then No. 9 hitter Austin Nola fired a ground fly two-out and two strikes to the left side to score two points. .

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

Plus, whether by design or coincidence, Padres hitters came out of the box a lot — A LOT — against Bassitt. He’s never been a particularly fast worker, although he doesn’t work so slowly that batters often get impatient in the box. San Diego came 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 that it’s just a guess – is that the whole coming out was intentional. Padres skipper Bob Melvin coached Bassitt with the Athletics from 2015-21, so he knows him well, and that means knowing what’s going on under his skin. I don’t want to say every outing tripped Bassitt up and explained his lackluster outing, but the San Diego batters asked for time at an inordinate rate.

Grisham did more damage

The Wild Card Series MVP doesn’t exist, but if there had been, Trent Grisham would have won it this weekend. He took Max Scherzer deep in Game 1, Jacob deGrom deep in Game 2, then he started a run with a two-out single against Bassitt in Game 3. And because that wasn’t enough, he saved a race with a terrific race caught in the 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 130 batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The playoffs are a clean slate, however. Each team is 0-0 and each batter has a new slant 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 at the stadium 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 sacrificial bunt! He was trying to bat for a hit with the third baseman running back and shaded to shortstop, but it went into the record books as a sack bunt. It’s the first bunt in Soto’s bag since his rookie year in 2018, and only the second of his MLB career. Manny Machado, the next batter, scored a single in the run. Soto then made two insurance runs with a single in the eighth.

And second, McNeil hit! He had made 60 plate appearances — since Sept. 20 — without being retired. That’s an eternity considering the league’s strikeout rate these days. McNeil has knocked out just 10.4% of his plate appearances this year, the third-lowest rate among skilled hitters and well below the league average of 22.4%. Alas and unfortunately, McNeil’s strikeout came at the wrong time – with a runner on first and no strikeout on fifth. This helped stifle a potential rally.

Next

As noted, the Padres travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Mets head home. The Wild Card Series round is officially over and the Division Series is next. Game 1 at Dodger Stadium — Game 1 of each Division Series, it should be noted — is scheduled for Tuesday. Here’s the full playoff schedule.

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