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Musgrove wows in debut win

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Joe Musgrove was nothing short of spectacular in his Pirates debut, throwing even shutout innings and scoring the game-winning run in an 8-1 win over the Cardinals.

Musgrove appeared to be in the Pirates’ rotation out of spring training, but a shoulder injury shortly before his first scheduled start forced him onto the disabled list.

After waiting almost two months to break through as Buc, Musgrove allowed just five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in his seven inning outing.

"This is kind of the way I wanted to come out. I've had plenty of time to get myself right and get things where they need to be," Musgrove said. "This is the pitcher I wanted to show them, and I was able to do that. It's a good feeling."

Musgrove’s success started with strike one.

"He was relentless in pounding the strike zone," manager Clint Hurdle said. "If the first pitch wasn't a strike, the second one was."

The 25 year old started 16 of the 25 batters he faced with a strike and retired 15 on three pitches or less. He only needed 67 pitches, 50 of which were strikes, to get through his seven innings.

Musgrove first pitch of at-bat. Courtesy of Baseball Savant.

He told Hurdle he still had more in the tank, but Hurdle said the risk versus reward was not worth putting him out there another inning in a lopsided game.

Musgrove told catcher Francisco Cervelli before the game that he was going to follow his catcher’s word since he did not have any experience against the Cardinals. Cervelli challenged him. Musgrove said he enjoyed it. So did Cervelli.

"The important thing about him is he doesn't throw a pitch...It’s got a purpose," Cervelli said.

At the plate, Musgrove opened the sixth inning with an opposite field single- the first hit of his major league career. Josh Harrison followed with a gap shot to center field, and Musgrove was able to beat the throw home to score the game’s first run.

"I haven't run the bases in forever, so I didn't know who to look for or what to look at. I was just running as hard as I could,” Musgrove said. “I felt like I was moving underwater, but I got the job done.”

“Like he’s been doing it forever,” Hurdle said.

Musgrove’s baserunning jump started the offense. Josh Bell brought Harrison home on a sacrifice fly, and Corey Dickerson tripled home Cervelli in that inning. Cervelli hit a bases clearing triple to make it 6-0 in the third, and Austin Meadows and Jordy Mercer’s back-to-back triples in the eighth tacked on two more runs.

Transaction News

To make room for Musgrove, the Pirates designated relief pitcher George Kontos for assignment.

Kontos entered the year as the club’ set-up man but was removed from that role earlier this month. He has a 5.03 ERA with 19 strikeouts and five walks in 19.2 innings.

In Charlotte, Indianapolis Indians pitcher Nick Kingham was pulled from his start 11 pitches in. A source tells PSR that Kingham is on his way to Pittsburgh.

Outfielder Starling Marte is set to be removed off the 10 day disabled list Saturday ( oblique).

On Deck

The Pirates will try to make it five in a row against the Cardinals Saturday at 4:05 p.m.. Trevor Williams (5-2, 3.05) will take on Jack Flaherty (1-1, 2.31).

NUMB3RS

1. Cervelli leads baseball with 22 two out RBI.

2. The Pirates are 16-9 at PNC Park. Their .640 home winning percentage is the fourth best in baseball.

3. Austin Meadows has 13 hits in his first seven major league games. The last Pirate to do that was Gregory Polanco in 2014.

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