Musgrove almost unhittable in Fresno return

Righty looking to right the ship after returning from Houston

Joe Musgrove has a 2.77 ERA over 344 1/3 frames in 77 Minor League appearances. (Kiel Maddox/Fresno Grizzlies)

By Alex Kraft / | June 30, 2017 3:35 AM

Coming back to the Minor Leagues has given Joe Musgrove the freedom to focus on making adjustments. On Thursday night, he showed the fruits of his labor.

The Houston right-hander allowed one hit and two walks while striking out seven over seven innings in Triple-A Fresno's 8-0 blanking of Albuquerque at Chukchansi Park.

The Astros sent down Musgrove (1-0) on Saturday after the 24-year-old posted a 6.01 ERA in 67 1/3 innings over 13 starts. Though he was sidelined between May 27 and June 12 with right shoulder discomfort, Musgrove knew there were elements of his game that needed polish. 

Gameday box score

"It's just been command issues for me really," Musgrove said. "It's execution of pitches, especially being able to command that down-and-away corner to righties. I'm tending to leak a lot of balls back middle, and that's where the damage is coming from.

"When I went out there today in warmups and playing catch before the game, I really tried to feel the adjustments I have been trying to make."

Video: Fresno's Musgrove records 7th K

The 2011 first-round pick said he felt good from the outset in his first Triple-A start of the season. He allowed a two-out double to Noel Cuevas in the first inning, then retired 13 in a row.

"When I got out there, it was just, 'Compete,'" Musgrove said. "That natural part of your body just takes over and it turns into a fight to beat the other guys."

The El Cajon, California native surrendered leadoff walks to Derrik Gibson in the sixth and Rockies No. 5 prospect Ryan McMahon in the seventh. Both runners were erased by double plays.

"The guys up the middle did a really good job of executing that," Musgrove said. "It was an eight-run lead right there. It's not really too threatening to have a leadoff guy on, but it's easy for an outing to snowball like that."

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound hurler threw 53 of his 84 pitches for strikes and tied a career high for innings pitched.

MiLB include

Back in the Minors for the first time since July 2016, Musgrove said he felt the experience will ultimately prove beneficial.

"Coming down here kind of gives me a little more freedom to work on things and not have to worry so much about the execution and performing every fifth day," he said. "I can slow the game down a little bit and have a less high-leverage situation than being up in the big leagues. It gives me time to get things right and get some confidence going."

Houston's fourth-ranked prospect Derek Fisher belted a two-run homer -- his 18th of the season -- while Tony Kemp went 3-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored for Fresno. 

Sam Howard (1-1), Colorado's 14th-ranked prospect, yielded one run on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts in five innings for Albuquerque. 

Alex Kraft is a contributor to Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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