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Harrison Musgrave's struggles do not slow down red-hot Albuquerque Isotopes

Albuquerque makes it seven victories in a row despite another rough outing by a starting pitcher

Harris Musgrave gave up six runs in six innings yet the Isotopes still won their seventh game in a row.
Harris Musgrave gave up six runs in six innings yet the Isotopes still won their seventh game in a row.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It was a repeat performance, of a sort, for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Sunday night.

On the one hand, the lineup did plenty of damage, the defense was solid and the bullpen on point again. On the other hand, a lefty pitching prospect who started the game struggled mightily.

Oh, and the Isotopes (41-53) won 7-6, completing a four-game sweep of Memphis and making it seven victories in a row.
Harrison Musgrave (5-5) struggled through five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four batters. He gave up three home runs as the Redbirds (45-48) nearly rallied from a 7-2 deficit.

"I didn’t like that we gave up four runs late," manager Glenallen Hill said. "Musgrave, this seems to be the theme. He battled through that one. He didn’t help himself out. He’s a much better pitcher than that."

Musgrave’s biggest problem was with Memphis’ Nos. 4-6 hitters. The trio of David Washington, Jacob Wilson and Breyvic Valera reached base eight of the nine times they faced Musgrave.

"It’s kind of a theme for him and that’s why he’s here," Hill said. "We’re going to continue to work through those things. When your team scores, you have to find that comfort zone of separating yourself from whatever happens on the offensive side of the ball. Your job is to go out and execute pitches. Sometimes it gets hard for pitchers because they have an emotional investment with the other players. He has some room to grow in that area."

Catcher Dustin Garneau said Musgrave’s struggles also manifested in his inability to control one of his key pitches.

"He lost the feel for his sinker, it started cutting on him and it wasn’t in the zone as often as it was earlier in the game," Garneau said. "When you saw that two-seam sinker, it’s a tough pitch to hit for righties and lefties. That last inning, once it got away from him, that’s when balls started getting hit."

Three relievers were able to shut the door. Sam Moll, Brian Schlitter and Scott Oberg allowed just one hit and four walks, stifling the Redbirds.

"Our back three are rolling, they’re pretty special," Garneau said. "It’s fun (catching them), too."

Oberg earned his ninth save.

"Scott Oberg is focused on doing what he needs to do and he is controlling what he can control," Hill said. "He definitely is a talented guy. It’s just showing in his overall performance, not just in results, but if you watch him pitch now, he’s in control, he’s in control of what’s going on."

As for the hitters, Garneau went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Mike Tauchman was 2-for-4 with a run and a double, while David Dahl went 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and an RBI. Alex Castellanos added a two-run double.

"The thing that I like with most of the hitters is they’re slowing the game down," Hill said. "So we’re able to have better quality at-bats."

The Isotopes will go up against the Nashville Sounds in a four-game series starting Monday at 7:05 p.m. The Sounds scored 45 runs in taking three of four at El Paso. Right-hander Christian Bergman (1-2, 4.34 ERA) gets the starting nod against Nashville lefty Dillon Overton (10-4, 2.98), the Oakland A’s preseason No. 8 prospect.