The Fresno Grizzlies wrapped a tough 2-6 homestand on Friday evening, with an 11-7 defeat at the hands of the Omaha Storm Chasers, who took three of four in the series. Fresno trimmed a once 7-0 Omaha lead to 7-6, and seemed poised for what would have been their largest comeback of the season before the visitors pulled away for good.
Omaha went ahead 1-0 in the first, on a pair of base hits and a Hunter Dozier sac fly. In the third, the clouds opened on the Grizzlies, and the Storm Chasers sent 11 batters to the plate in a seven-hit, six-run inning. Orlando Calixte (3-for-4) drove in two runs in the inning, leading off the frame with a solo homer to left, and lifting a sac fly to left with two out. In between, Jorge Bonifacio (3-for-5) had a RBI double, and Tony Cruz, Bubba Starling (2-for-5) and Ramon Torres stroked three consecutive RBI singles. It was 7-0 after two and a half innings.
Fresno broke up the shutout in the home half of the third, with their first two hits of the night. Colin Moran launched a two-out homer to the left field alley, his ninth of the year, after a Chan Jong Moon single. The two-run shot extended Moran's hit streak to nine games, his season-long streak and the current club-high for the Grizzlies.
The Grizz continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth, when Jon Kemmer led off with a solo homer to left, cutting the Omaha lead to 7-3. They wound up returning the favor for the big Storm Chasers' third, also batting around after the Kemmer blast. They totaled five hits in a nine-batter inning, highlighted by an Andrew Aplin RBI double into the right field corner which scored Danny Worth all the way from first base. Aplin then scored on Derek Fisher's RBI single, and Moran added his third RBI of the night on a single of his own to score Fisher. Halfway through the ballgame, the 7-0 Omaha lead was suddenly 7-6 after four in the fourth.
The Storm Chasers squelched the Grizzlies' momentum in the sixth; singles by Calixte and Reymond Fuentes, and a Dozier walk loaded the bases with two out. Bonifacio then narrowly missed a grand slam, banging one off the top of the wall in left field, clearing the bases. His three-run double made it 10-6 Omaha. Trailing 11-6 in the ninth, the Grizz tacked on one more with a Kemmer RBI fielder's choice to round out the night's scoring.
In his Grizz debut, lefty starter Eury De La Rosa lasted four innings, allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out two and walked one, taking the loss. Fresno touched Omaha starter Mike Minor for six earned runs on seven hits, he also lasted just four innings. Benino Pruneda (3-1) followed and earned the win with three innings of relief, allowing just one hit and striking out six.
With a 2-for-5 night and two RBI, Jon Kemmer has now hit safely in 26 of his last 31 games, batting .342 in that span with 11 homers and 20 total extra-base hits. He's scored 23 runs and walked 13 times in that period, with three stolen bases. Kemmer has 32 RBI in his last 31 games played. His 33 consecutive games played (all starts) are a Fresno Grizzlies 2016-high.
Danny Worth has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, batting .450 (18-40) in that time. Since his return to the Fresno lineup August 1 after appearing in 16 big league games with the Astros, Worth is batting .388 with a home run, five doubles, five RBI, eight runs scored, six walks and a steal.
The paid crowd of 10,216, when added to the 14,651 fans at Taco Truck Throwdown 6 a night prior on Thursday, combined for the largest two-day attendance total this season for Fresno. The total of 24,867 fans over the two games surpassed the 22,925 drawn to the first two home games of the season, April 15 & 16 against Las Vegas (crowds of 13,415 and 9,510).
The Grizzlies will now head to Albuquerque for four games, before returning to Fresno on Tuesday for the final homestand of the regular season. In the opener Saturday night, RHP David Paulino, one of the Houston Astros' top pitching prospects, will make his Triple-A debut and start for the Grizzlies after being promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi today. RHP Eddie Butler (6-2, 4.87) will get the nod for Albuquerque in the clubs' final series of 2016.