The Fresno Grizzlies (72-53) restored their season-high of 19 games over .500 on Saturday night with a 3-1 win over the Tacoma Rainiers (60-64). The Grizzlies lowered their magic number to clinch the Pacific Northern Division to eight, with 15 games remaining in the regular season. The victory improved Fresno to 9-1 in Saturday games on the road this season.
Reno's 9-5 home win over Salt Lake makes it overwhelmingly likely the Grizzlies will clinch their second division title and playoff appearance in four seasons at Chukchansi Park, as a seven-game homestand begins on Friday, August 24. Only four consecutive wins to end the current road trip along with four Reno losses in that same span would allow Fresno to clinch as early as August 23 at Sacramento.
Fresno jumped out to a 1-0 lead after just three batters. Speedster and professional baseball stolen base leader Myles Straw (2-for-5) beat out an infield single, and scored on a Jack Mayfield (3-for-5) double into left field. Tacoma evened the score 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth, on a Zach Vincej (2-for-2) RBI single to short.
Josh James allowed only one unearned run for the Grizzlies, but lasted just 4.2 innings. He struck out six and walked three, scattering five hits in a no-decision. Tacoma starter Casey Lawrence lasted an out longer, surrendering five hits and an (earned) run in five innings. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out three.
It was 2-1 Fresno at the outset of the sixth inning, when Mayfield led the frame with a line drive solo shot to left field, his 14th home run of the season. Later that inning it was 3-1 when J.D. Davis doubled to center, scoring A.J. Reed who had reached on an error. Mayfield's two RBI would prove to be the difference, as that score stood up as the final.
Dean Deetz (2-0) picked up the win in relief, tossing two and a third scoreless, hitless innings with a walk and two strikeouts in relief of James. Brendan McCurry pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to end the game, good for his 13th save of the season.
Brian McCann, making the second start of his MLB rehab assignment, caught six innings for the Grizzlies. In Thursday's series opener, he went 1-for-4 as designated hitter.
The finale of the four-game series will be Sunday afternoon at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium, as Fresno looks to take three of four. Probable starters are LHP Kent Emanuel (5-2, 4.42) for the Grizzlies against RHP Bryan Evans (5-2, 4.30) for the Rainiers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. PT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.