Hooks' Musgrove proves tough again

Astros No. 8 prospect tosses six shutout innings, lowers ERA to 0.39

Joe Musgrove has allowed 17 hits in 26 innings for the Corpus Christi Hooks. (Tammy Tucker)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | May 3, 2016 1:18 AM

Joe Musgrove did on Monday night what's he done consistently since the start of the season: put up zeros.

The Astros' eighth-ranked prospect scattered five hits over six scoreless innings as Double-A Corpus Christi beat Frisco, 8-2.

Musgrove (2-1) struck out five and issued one walk while lowering his Texas League-leading ERA to 0.39. He recorded nine ground-ball outs and threw 59 of 86 pitches for strikes.

"I was attacking guys, taking chances in the zone, and I established fastballs inside early, which opened up the outer half for me," Musgrove said. "I tried to pitch to contact early to try to get myself deep into the game and give my 'pen a little bit of a rest."

The 23-year-old right-hander has been particularly stingy this season, holding Texas League foes to a .193 batting average in five outings, including four starts. He hasn't given up an earned run in four of those games.

"I feel like I'm picking up where I left off last year," he said. "I made a few adjustments to a few pitches and they're a little sharper this year. I'm happy right now, just trying to stay healthy."

Musgrove took a tough loss his last time out, yielding an unearned run on five hits while fanning a season-high seven over five frames on April 26 against Midland.

"It's tough," he said. "Whether I get the win or loss isn't that important to me. We were in a bit of a losing streak and I was hoping to bring us out of it. When I'm out there, I have to do my best to put up zeros. Regardless of whether the run scored on an error or not, I let us get into a position where that was possible."

Astros No. 30 prospect Michael Freeman followed Musgrove and picked up his first Double-A save, despite giving up a pair of runs on five hits while striking out two over the final three innings.

Chase McDonald homered and drove in three runs for Corpus Christi, giving him 12 RBIs in his last five games.

"He's been getting into better counts and getting pitches to hit," Musgrove said. "He's put himself in a good situation, a good count, got a good count and didn't miss it."

Luis Mendez hit a solo homer for the RoughRiders, who have dropped two in a row following a six-game winning streak.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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