MILWAUKEE (AP) — MacKenzie Gore believes the adversity he encountered in the minor leagues has helped him thrive now that he’s in the majors.
Gore, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft, didn't get to pitch in 2020 when the pandemic shut down the minor league season and he produced so-so results in the San Diego Padres’ farm system last year. But since arriving in San Diego this year, he’s been nothing short of spectacular.
The 23-year-old Gore continued his sensational rookie season by throwing six stellar innings in a 4-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
“It helps everybody when you can go through something, adversity, if you can get through it,” Gore said. “It’s helped a ton.”
A day after Joe Musgrove took a no-hit try into the eighth inning and combined with the bullpen to blank the Brewers on one hit, Gore and the San Diego relievers teamed up on another shutout.
Jake Cronenworth homered and drove in three runs to provide all the offense the Padres would need.
Gore (4-1) continued the spectacular start to his rookie season by throwing a career-high 108 pitches. His 10 strikeouts matched a career high. He allowed three hits and three walks while reducing his ERA to 1.50.
According to Stats Perform, Gore is the first pitcher to have at least 55 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.50 or lower over his first nine career appearances since 1913, when ERA became an official statistic in both leagues.
“Spring training is when he kind of showed up with different stuff, or the stuff that he was drafted with,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “He had to go through some tough times, and sometimes that's good for you. You find yourself again.”
Over his last four outings, Gore has allowed one run and 11 hits in 22 innings. That stretch includes three starts and one three-inning relief stint.
Gore’s outstanding performance continued the San Diego pitching staff's series-long domination of a Brewers lineup that has struggled with Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe on the injured list.
The Brewers rallied for four runs in the ninth to beat the Padres 5-4 on Thursday, but they’ve mustered just one run in the other 26 innings of this series. This marks the first time the Brewers have suffered back-to-back shutout losses since July 3-4, 2019, in Cincinnati.
“We’re a little more banged up, and the guys that are out there, they have to play, and they’re capable of putting up runs,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Against good pitchers, you’re just not going to get many chances to do it. And the last two days, we haven’t been able to capitalize on kind of small opportunities that we’ve had.”
San Diego's Nabil Crismatt, Luis García and Taylor Rogers each pitched one inning of shutout relief Saturday. Rogers, the Padres' closer, bounced back in a non-save situation after he had allowed seven runs over 1 2/3 innings in his last three appearances.
In a matchup of promising young left-handers, Gore outdueled Milwaukee’s Aaron Ashby (1-4).
Ashby, the nephew of former Padres pitcher Andy Ashby, struck out nine and walked nobody but gave up four runs in six innings. He has struck out 21 over his last two starts.
The Padres capitalized on some good fortune to take a 1-0 lead in the third inning.
Cronenworth hit a liner that bounced in shallow left field and ricocheted off the wall in foul territory. The ball then headed back toward the outfield while left fielder Andrew McCutchen was heading in the opposite direction to follow its original path.
Sergio Alcantara scored all the way from first on Cronenworth’s two-out double.
In his next plate appearance, Cronenworth drove a 1-1 changeup over the right-field wall for his fourth homer of the season.
“I probably should have gone back to the slider there,” Ashby said. “That’s baseball. You have to make a better pitch there and learn from it.”
San Diego’s victory once again kept Counsell one win from matching Phil Garner’s record for wins by a Brewers manager.
Counsell entered Saturday with a 562-500 record in eight seasons. Garner went 563-617 with the Brewers from 1992-99.