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 / MiLB.com | 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. 


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"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.

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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 MiLB.com. 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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