SAN DIEGO — — Joe Musgrove had been nervous about Thursday night since manager Bob Melvin told the big right-hander during spring training that he was going to start the home opener for his hometown Padres.
It was worth it when Musgrove came off the mound with two outs in the seventh inning to a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 44,844 at Petco Park.
“Getting to open up in front of your hometown, a full stadium, especially when baseball is as exciting as it is in San Diego, is all I dreamed of,” Musgrove said after the Padres routed the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves 12-1.
Musgrove threw brilliantly and got plenty of help from an offense that had been somewhat lethargic in the season opener. Manny Machado homered and tied his career high with five hits, and rookie CJ Abrams hit his first homer for San Diego.
As the bottom of the sixth dragged on, Melvin told Musgrove he didn’t think he needed to go back there. Musgrove, who grew up in the suburb of El Cajon, wanted to stay in the game.
“He said, ‘What if I give you two batters and then I take you out and we see if we can give you a little ovation,'” Musgrove said. “I said I’m in for that. My goal was just to get those first two guys.
Shortly after the crowd gave Musgrove a standing ovation, they roared after Machado hit a two-run two-out homer late in the inning, his first.
Machado went 5-for-5, scored four runs, had two RBIs and stole two bases. Eric Hosmer had four hits while new designated hitter Luke Voit drove in three runs. Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies homered in the lead in the ninth, his second.
Musgrove’s debut came a year and five days after throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history, at Texas in his second start with the Padres.
Musgrove (1-0) limited the Braves to four hits, struck out six and didn’t walk. It was the first time in his seven-year career that he started in a home opener.
Musgrove said he was stressed earlier in the day and his girlfriend was upset that he wasn’t talking to her in the morning because he was “just trying to get me into the right headspace.
“It’s a good feeling to have the support of an entire city, but we also feel a little more pressure when everyone reaches out and everyone shoots for you and everyone comes to watch you.” , Musgrove said. “It was nice to have some excitement from the attack and some of the other guys in the squad to get some of that.”
Said Melvin: “For a day, it’s about as perfect a day as possible, with a full house, opening day, Joe on the mound, Manny, Hos, CJ home run. You can’t script any better than that.
Braves starter Charlie Morton (1-1) struggled for five innings. He allowed five runs and nine hits, struck out five, walked three and hit two batters. He also earned the 1,500th strikeout of his career.
Abrams, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft, joined the club after a strong spring. The 21-year-old shortstop, from the Atlanta area, homered away from the left field on Morton’s second pitch of the second. Voit added an RBI brace to make it 5-0. Voit hit a two-run single in the sixth.
Abrams, whose parents were in the stands, received the silent treatment from his teammates in the dugout after his home trot, then responded to an encore.
“It was an awesome experience. It was crazy,” Abrams said. “The crowd was electric. We jumped on them early and got the win.
Morton got into trouble in the first when he hit two batters and allowed a single to load the bases after just four batters. Hosmer drove in two runs on a two-out single and Wil Myers scored a single in another run.
Padres: LHP Blake Snell was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with a tight left adductor.
The four-game series continues Friday night when Padres LHP MacKenzie Gore is set to make his big league debut against Braves RHP Kyle Wright (1-0, 0.00), who will face the Padres for the first time. Gore, the third overall pick in the 2017 draft, takes Snell’s rotation spot.