The Fresno Grizzlies were officially eliminated from postseason contention Tuesday night in Tacoma, Washington, dropping a 5-3 game to the Rainiers. The Grizz (70-67-1) are still striving for their first back-to-back winning seasons since moving downtown to Chukchansi Park, and must go at least 2-4 in their final six games to do it. The 1998 and 1999 Grizzlies fielded consecutive winning clubs in the franchise's first two seasons, playing at Pete Beiden Field on the campus of Fresno State.
Tacoma led 1-0 in the second, after a one-out James Ramsey (2-for-4) double scored on a Tyler Smith RBI single. Danny Worth evened the scored in the fourth, with a one-out solo shot to left, his 11th home run of the season.
The Rainiers retook the lead 2-1 in the fourth, when Dan Vogelbach led the inning with a solo homer of his own, also to left field. For Vogelbach, it was his 22nd homer of the year between Iowa and Tacoma, following a trade deadline deal in July which sent him from the Cubs to the Mariners. It was 3-1 Tacoma after a Jesus Sucre RBI single, in a four-hit inning. Fresno starter Cesar Valdez minimized the damage though, stranding two.
Nolan Fontana got one back for the Grizzlies in the fifth to make it 3-2, leading off the inning with his third homer of the year. Fontana is 4-for-8 in this series, with three runs scored.
Tacoma starter Sam Gaviglio (no-decision) went six innings, allowing two runs (both earned) with a walk and six strikeouts.
Valdez notched another quality start, despite not factoring into the decision. He went seven innings, allowing three runs (all earned), and did not walk a batter with three strikeouts. Valdez's 12 wins this season remain tied with Brady Rodgers for third in the PCL, and the two are in a seven-way tie for the third-most wins in a season in Grizzlies history.
The Grizzlies found the equalizer against the Tacoma bullpen in the eighth; Tyler White got to second base after a fielder's choice, thanks to a Danny Worth walk. Colin Moran then collected his club-leading 68th RBI on a grounder up the middle, scoring White to make it a 3-3 game.
In the home half of the eighth, a Vogelbach walk set the table for a Mike Freeman (3-for-4) two-run homer, scorched to centerfield. It would prove to be the game winner, and the final scoring play of the night in Tacoma's 5-3 victory. The home run was surrendered by Jandel Gustave (3-3), the first he's allowed this year in either Triple-A or the Majors (three games); the longball came in his 47th appearance with Fresno and his 57th inning pitched. Reliever David Rollins (5-0) gave up just enough in the eighth for the win.
Game three of this four-game set will commence Wednesday evening at 7:05. PCL ERA leader Brady Rodgers (12-4, 2.91) will go to the mound for Fresno, attempting to close out the league ERA title in his final scheduled start. RHP Joe Wieland (12-6, 5.78) will start for Tacoma.