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Apr 26, 2024 8:24 am

First-time father Manny Machado set to return as Padres host Phillies

Manny Machado

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper displayed his “dad strength” in his first game back from the paternity list Thursday in Cincinnati.

The San Diego Padres hope Manny Machado follows suit when they welcome Harper and the Phillies to town on Friday night for the opener of a three-game series.

Machado will rejoin the team after missing a four-game set in Colorado to become a first-time father on Tuesday morning. Machado could have played in Thursday’s 10-9 loss to the Rockies since the maximum time on the paternity list is three games, but Padres manager Mike Shildt decided to wait to use him until the team returned home.

Harper’s wife, Kayla, gave birth to the couple’s third child earlier this week. Upon returning to the team on Thursday, Harper took former Padres pitcher Nick Martinez deep for a two-run homer to help the Phillies post a 5-0 win and earn a split in a four-game series vs. the Reds.

“Any time you have that opportunity to just do it … I just love the moment, right? It’s just like any time you can give me a moment, I’ll take it any time,” said Harper, whose team has won eight of its past 10 games. “I got a changeup over the zone and did some damage on it.”

While Harper did damage, Zack Wheeler kept the Reds from doing likewise with six shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out eight to lower his ERA to 1.93. That’s been a recurring feature of the team’s solid start; Philadelphia pitching has held opponents to a .220 batting average.

Right-hander Aaron Nola (3-1, 3.16 ERA) will try to keep that roll going in Friday night’s game. He cruised to an 8-2 win Sunday over the Chicago White Sox, allowing just two runs on four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts. Nola is 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in eight career starts against San Diego, permitting only 39 hits in 55 innings.

Meanwhile, the Padres will start a six-game homestand feeling like they should have won three of four in Colorado. But they coughed up a 9-4 lead in the eighth inning, allowing six runs to a team that has been held to three runs or less in 17 of 26 games this season.

The result isn’t changing Shildt’s belief that his team has what it takes to play October baseball.

“I’ll take this group every day of the week,” he said. “Because I have a bunch of winning gamers. I’ll take that over the long haul.”

In the short term, Shildt would take a good start from right-hander Joe Musgrove (3-2, 5.74 ERA) in the series opener. He’s coming off a 6-3 victory Sunday over Toronto that saw him last a season-high seven innings, permitting three runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Musgrove is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career outings vs. the Phillies. He has struck out 27 in as many innings.

San Diego hopes rookie center fielder Jackson Merrill (groin) can return to the lineup for Friday’s game after he was held out Thursday for precautionary reasons.

–Field Level Media

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